A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Ranong: Marists on the Thailand-Burma border (5)

Fr Frank Bird sm

Fr Frank Bird sm


The mission of education is connected with love of the poor. For the really poor, education is often the fourth priority, and a luxury. Food, health, shelter all take their place before it. But without education, children exist in a vicious cycle.

I see daily a young girl of about 8 years old often looking after 2 or 3 little children, smile and wave at our education truck as it slowly makes it way through the mud and puddles to school. She may say to herself she is not lucky, but we need to change this sadness of the poor.

I am often about to cry when a young boy and girl, who are desperately poor and who have been sponsored by friends and supporters in New Zealand to attend school, greet me each morning with a smile and a deep bow of thanks. They danced for joy in their little concrete room of a home with their crying grandmother when they heard they could come to school and we had found a sponsor and friend for them to support their school fees.

They cried when they received their school uniform. It was a symbol of safety, friends, learning, and pointed to a much brighter future. They arrive early and sweep the school each day. Bird July Ranong

A bright-faced young teenager shares that she was left at 7 years of age to look after 2 younger sisters and a brother. Her migrant parents, desperate for work, left for another town and left her with a neighbour and friend. She says, ‘I have to be their mother because my parents are not with us.’

Her parents told her to leave school to look after the children but she told her parents, ‘we should go to school.’ Like many other Burmese migrant children she has a part-time job after school and in the holidays. Now at 16 years of age she works at a restaurant as a waitress and cleaner, making it more bearable for the family to allow her to continue at school. She says, ‘I want to show my parents the photos of my graduation, a sign of my success and achievement.’ Daily I hear the children say, ‘I want to be an educated person.’
These are just glimpses into the lives of the 200 Burmese Migrant children receiving a hand to lift them up with education through the work of the Marist Mission in Ranong.

Fr Kevin Medilo sm with a pre-schooler

Fr Kevin Medilo sm with a pre-schooler

Something that continually amazes me is to learn just how much can be done with a gift of $20. It can completely change the life of a child and a family with school fees and transport support for a whole month. 70 cents a day, $5 a week. Small change, BIG difference. We’d love you to become a friend and supporter of a child. We also offer a volunteer opportunity.
As Marists we enjoy the adventure of being a gentle and often hidden presence among the poor. We welcome volunteers who have a heart for the poor, open to simple living, to the experience of community and prayer, and are willing to help us in the classroom to teach English, Science, Maths or university online studies. We’d love to welcome you. Trained teachers are extremely welcome to come and help mentor our own young Burmese teachers.

For more information about how you can become a supporter or volunteer, please click on this link






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