Saturday, 29 December 2012

Agape - One of 74 migrant schools in Tak Province

Gentle Reader,

Agape means unconditional love.  Love will be the only thing that will truly heal the wounds of 9/11; I could think of no better tribute than on the anniversary of that tragic day in 2001, to visit Agape Orphanage and Learning Center in Maesot Thailand.
Headmaster David Min Naing at Agape
David and two other head masters 
Tak province borders Burma and is teeming with Burmese people, culture and challenges.  Three of the seven refugee camps are in Tak, but that’s a total ly different story for the future.  There are thousands of migrant workers in Tak province, here at the grace of the Royal Thai Government but without many of the basic rights and privileges of a Thai citizen.

There are 74 schools (learning centers) in Tak province which support the children of migrant workers from Burma.  Perhaps in a future article I’ll take a deeper look at the political situation in which they must survive. Today you receive only a very brief background and a quick tour of a rather amazing campus.  Fair enough?

This article contains no information on how you can contribute.  Those of you who are interested please contact me and I’ll provide that information.  Depending on your country and tax status there are different options.
Boys at study, do they deserve an education and a chance in life?
Agape is one of the 74 schools. Headmaster David Min Naing is also the vice chairman of the consortium of 74 schools that support the migrant workers in Tak province.  The 74 schools support some 15,000 children, ranging from Nursery through grade 6.  David is quick to point out that after grade 6 most children are removed from school by their parents and put to work.  He also said there are between 15,000 and 20,000 children of migrant workers who are NOT in school.
Nursery Age Children, learning the Thai alphabet
 and beiing distracted by the foreigner with the camera .
After I left his company I sent David a flurry of short emails asking questions.  The last was just to confirm that he has 300 children.  His answer tells a lot about his operation, his philosophic approach and his finances.  I love this guy!  His answer "Agape has 300 children, 10 salary teacher including me are 3,500 thb per each, me the same, 3 volunteer teacher no salary just pocket money no more 500 thb.and 4people for boarding house care and cooks are  1800 thb per each. 1 day and gate watch and 2 night watch 2000 thb per each. and finally 2 free driver like me".

David and most of the 3rd grade class
This headmaster does everything based on love, he even named his school Agape.  An incredible man, David has designed the buildings himself.  He prefers separate buildings rather than a typical elementary school configuration.  It’s like a small campus.  The construction and maintenance is done by staff, volunteers and the children.   In addition to the classrooms, auditorium, dining facility and dormitories, there is a pig pen, chicken house, fish tank and more.  Agape is to the extent possible, a self-sustaining community.   Each building was sponsored by donations from various charities.  Without their support, life would be unbearable for these children.  Still there is much to be done, and serious shortages of just about everything.
Boy's dormatory
Fish Tanks - part of being self sustaining!
Agape has 300 children ranging from nursery school through grade 6.  As I walked around the campus I couldn’t help but notice some of the activities.  In the nursery school the children were learning the Thai alphabet.  The kindergarten class was lined up to show the teacher their written assignment, in Burmese.  Other classes were studying from books that looked like readers

Writing assignment being checked
They caught me at the window!  

The sign says “Orphanage”, but that could be misleading.  Of the 300 children 14 are known orphans, 12 are abandoned (the status of their parents is unknown).  The rest of the children are  boarded at Agape while they attend school.  They are too young to work in the fields; the parents are happy to have them taken care of by the school.  The parents get care for their children while they toil and the children receive an education.  It may seem sad, but it really is a win-win scenario within an overall situation that is far less than desirable.

David tells me that the children must learn to love and respect each other.  To that end, each day begins with, and again I quote David from one of his emails  “ 1. First we bow to Thai national flag and sing Thai national song ,  happy children songs with action ,Christian  song.  and  pray Islam by Islamic children lead them self ,then Buddhist religious saying by Buddhist children them self, then for  Christian I lead to pray , then good morning song, then final song is pigeon song that all children singing with flying and sleep action and then all children go inside the class room.”  Next time I’m in Maesot I’ll record this!

Each day these children are taught respect for the nation that is their host and also to  appreciate each other’s religion and culture!   I love this powerful approach.   Much of the evil in the world is committed in the name of religion. Teach the children that we are all the same and that there is no benefit to religious persecution; that is his belief and I totally agree.   Agape is love!   Children are lovable and deserve our love and respect!

Beware of these children: They will steal your heart!
However, they commit no crime

This article contains no information on how you can contribute.  Those of you who are interested please contact me and I’ll provide that information.  Depending on your country and tax status there are different options

The bigger Issue! 

No comments:

Post a Comment