Saturday, 17 July 2010

So proud of my teachers!

Sitting in Mae Sot's posh coffee shop, which is the only place we can find that has the internet! The hotel's is still down.
Here are Katherine, Alicia and Hannah, looking fresh, clean and ready for holiday as they left Edinburgh Airport.

Here they are, after 10 days in Mae Sot - wet, mozzy bitten and probably minging, following a cycle back from school in the torrential rain.

Katherine, Alicia and Hannah left Mae Sot yesterday morning after a very hard week's work in CDC school.

As your headteacher, Alicia, Hannah, Katherine, I am so proud of

1. the imaginative and creative teaching you modelled in CDC school
2. the relationships you built with CDC teachers and our Mae Sot friends
3. the compassion you felt for the Burmese and Karen children you met
4. your questioning of the situation here in Mae Sot for the Burmese people
5. your thinking about the future of Burma
6. your determination to develop the Campie CDC partnership in future years
7. last but not least, your courage as you overcame the very different lifestyle challenges of living here

Thank you each so much for giving so much of yourself - and your holiday time! It's great to have your companionship in our determination to let people know the situation of our Burmese and Karen friends.

So would everyone else like to know what was their typical day like?

6.15am Rise, go to toilet before you shower because the shower showers the toilet ( and the toilet roll so remember to take that out first!). Shower in erratic shower, then pack for school. This involves taking midgie cream, suntan lotion, handwash, toilet wipes, water, raincoat, sunhat, malaria tablets, camera, phone, thai money AND DON'T FORGET THE BIKE KEY.....or you have to climb 3 steep flights of hotel stairs to get it again. This happens often! Oh yes, and bring your dirty clothes down to the laundry who will have it washed, dried and ironed by the next day. Ironed everything including socks for about 50 bhats or £1!

7.15am Meet others at bikes, wait till someone climbs stairs to collect what we've forgotten like did we remember our teaching resources? Cycle first part of quite long journey to school. First half takes 15 mins.

7.40am Arrive Casa Mia for breakfast of crepes/toast and cornflakes/banana pancakes/watermelon/lime shakes/coffee.... yum. Back onto bikes unless Katherine's chain has fallen off again at which point she will cry!

8.30am Arrive school. Organise resources then teach from 9am - 3.30pm pretty well non stop in nursery, Kindergarten, Grade 1, 4, 5, 6, 7. You've read about this in the blog. What it doesn't say is that we are teaching in such hot, humid conditions that we are constantly slippy with sweat and beetroot in face. Don't underestimate how uncomfortable this is, it is truly horrible. We feel constantly MINGING! And then we have to negotiate the toilets. Sheila managed to avoid going to school toilets at all - I've worked hard to develop this technique over 4 years! Katherine was the opposite and became a master of going to local squat toilets because she went so much! There are no staff toilets and no closed cubicles, giving Katherine some interesting experiences not to be blogged but promising to make our first inservice day amusing!

3.30pm School ends as 1200 children pile into overloaded buses, run through paddy fields, walk or cycle or motorbike home. We usually stay for an after school English club or for a meeting about our Global School Partnership. We had 2 of these meetings, both attended by Dr Cynthia Maung, which was a great honour. Don, if you are reading this, Dr Cynthia Maung is a great lady who has won many humanitarian awards for her work here for the health and education of the Burmese and Karen people. She may accompany the Burmese teachers to Scotland. We hope you will be able to meet with them. I'll email you.

5.30pm Arrive back at hotel, usually drenched to skin with either rain or sweat! All collapse in Sheila and Geoff's room which he has ready at fridge temperatute using air con. All drink cold coke! Crash! We do have 3 separate rooms. 1. Geoff and Sheila 2. Hannah and Louise 3. Kat and Alicia. Rooms 2 and 3 have scary, randomly gurgling toilets. Another toilet story is that the teachers were putting their toilet paper in the toilet, resulting in almost overflowing toilets. Used toilet paper here goes in the bin, not the toilet.... yes, very ugh!)

7pm Off out for tea, to a variety of local restaurants that sell thai, burmese or western food. Typical meal costs £2.50, which is dearer than it used to be.

9.30pm Return to hotel. It's time to internet and blog. It's 3.30pm so the UK is up and we are all excited that you may have commented on our blog but usually you haven't! Ah well, we continue. Thanks to everyone who had got in touch. We know lots of you are reading and that REALLY matters to us.

11.30pm Sleep... ready to go at 6am again in the morning

Is it a holiday? For me, it's been more gruelling this year .... am I getting older? ..... CDC is further away and with Hle Bee we started at 10am. Who knows? Anyway NONE of these discomforts matter a jot when you see what we saw last night as we sat tucking into our meal.

A woman walked past pushing a battered old wheelbarrow type carrier with a toddler sitting in all the rubbish she had salvaged from bins as she walked round town in the torrential rain. Think of that child's life .... puts it all into heartbreaking perspective. Sheila


  1. Ah, what a good week you've had! So different in many ways to Hle bee but also lots of similar experiences. Just read in the paper that a Yorkshire town has introduced squat toilets after council members went on a cultural exchange visit to Asia - Scotland here they come!! I go away for a week and had so much to read when I got back. i remember those days so well and it's been hard to read it all without jumping on the plane! And, Ms Laing, I'll have you know, we started at 9.15am in Hle Bee last year! I have the timetable to prove it! Well done everyone - a great start to your partnership.

    Fiona x

  2. Marnie, Chris and Johdi18 July 2010 at 09:39

    What a journey you have all been on, it sounds an amazing place with very interesting people. I was wondering what the time difference was and now you have answered, thanks.

    I don't know how you can stand the heat, it must be so hard but I think the toilet situation would be worse.

    take care,

    Marnie, Chris and Johdi xx

  3. Sandra C. St Mrgaret's18 July 2010 at 10:59

    Well done on undertaking so much in so little time, and hopefully making such a difference. Loved reading the blogs.

    We should all realise just how 'rich' we are in comparison with the people you are with.

    I take my hat of to you all.

    Sandra Carr
    St Margaret's

  4. Hi there everyone,

    I've just got back from holiday and as David lost our brand new ipad, I haven't been able to keep up. So now I'm going to pour a big glass of wine and plough through the last week or so.
    Sheila, those tiolets are not nearly as bad as you say. Fiona, where in Yorkshire has introduced them?
    looking forward to finding all about it,
    Gaynor x

  5. I'm not surprised you are proud of your teachers Sheila, I'm sure everyone at Campie shares your feelings. What an amazing time you've all had.
    The blog is amazing, and your compassion and sensitivity is heartwarming. I think you have already helped the people of Burma by sharing your experiences with all of us. Thank you all so much.
    Have a safe journey home,
    Gaynor x

  6. Oh thank you for all these lovely comments. Lots of you back from holiday and catching up now. The teachers will continue to blog as they have so much still to say. Love Sheila

  7. The squat toilets - complete with bucket of water - are in Rochdale - apologies to all those lancastrians / greater manchestarians out there!

    Fiona x

  8. Jacquie McNally19 July 2010 at 13:23

    Ha Ha!! Great blog! Just back from 2 weeks camping in the Highlands and Orkney, have a few toilet stories myself!!Squat loos aren't too bad once you get used to them!
    Sounds like you're doing amazing work and making some life-long friends, look forward to hearing about it all when you get back,off to catch up with the rest of your stories....take care all, and safe trip back!
    Jacquie xx

  9. Lovely to hear from you Jackie... were you also experiencing a rainy season?