We have made it safely to Chiang Mai although barely know what day it is. The Internet access was down in Mae Sot yesterday and could still be - if you don't hear from Sheila don't panic!
Yesterday was amazing.
It began with another early start (6am - yuk!) and assembly. What an event! Kindergarten to Grade 7 packed out the assembly hall while the remaining 600 students joined in with singing and dancing from the school's balcony. It was incredibly moving as Sey Hei and Sheila reviewed the week that we'd had and the experiences that we'd shared. We sang some fabby Fischy music which the students LOVE. At the end of the assembly we were deeply touched to be gifted with beautiful Karen tops, part of the traditional outfit worn be Burmese people from the Karen state. Our outfits were completed with sparkly, delicate brooches. CDC also gifted Campie a stunning picture (inlay) of a traditional scene, made from sand, which will take pride of place at the entrance to Campie. We were very sad to leave but also excited that this is only the beginning of our friendship with CDC school.
Following are first trip to Burma (we'll fill in the details in a later blog) we visited Sey Hei's boarding house and the 80 girls that live there. We were blown away by the welcome that we received. Sey Hei and the children were literally out on the street to meet us. "You will take a little food with us?" they said.
The accommodation, which for many of the students is their only home, comprises of four floors: a living area, a basic kitchen, a floor for washing and drying clothes and two floors for the students' sleeping area. The house was highly organised. Each child had a box for their own belongings and a mat for sleeping on which was rolled up during the day. Students were split in to groups which took part in the running of the house. Washing, cleaning, ironing and cooking are part of every day life for students living in migrant boarding houses. We were surprised and shocked to learn that students could not leave the confines of the boarding house, with the exception of attending school. They live in Thailand illegally. Although they are tolerated by Thai officials they must abide by strict regulations; if they were to leave the safety of their boarding house they could be arrested and deported due to their illegal status.
While we completed the tour of the four story boarding house our food was prepared. We were acutely aware that the boarding houses lack funds and we have heard that they have had to cut back on rations, but refusing to partake in dinner would have seemed ungrateful to a culture that is based on generosity. The students diet is based on rice and fish paste so you can imagine our horror as plates of curried pork, deep fried chicken and eggs began to appear.
SORRY - no pictures for now. We are in an Internet cafe and are not allowed to upload files.
Alicia, Katherine and Hannah