Monday, 16 August 2010

Campie staff learn more about Burma

Summer is over in Scotland - well, the staff all returned from their holidays for 3 In Service training days at Campie.

This morning Katherine Macnaughton and Alicia Macfarlane led Campie staff in learning about CDC School and about the lives of the Burmese and Karen students and staff. They began by putting 6 photos from their visit to Mae Sot on 7 tables and the staff had to go around and record their impressions of the photos. This was cleverly based on a session SCOTDEC ran at Campie earlier this year, where they used photos to challenge stereotypes. And what were the staff saying about the photos?
'The children look so happy and well cared for.'
'I can't believe the clinic has so many landmine victims and they are all so young.'
'Is that school milk they're drinking?'
'What are they selling ice cream in school for?'
'Such cute children.'
'The nursery has pictures on the walls but the school is so bare.'
'64 Burmese schools in Mae Sot? I thought CDC was the only one!'

Each table then read a CDC child's story of how they came to be in Thailand from Burma, which provoked strong feelings of awe at the resilience of the Burmese people but concern at the danger they live in on the Border.

Finally, we thought about learning projects that Campie and CDC could embark on together in our Global Schools Partnership. We'll share them with Say Hei if she ever gets a UK visa!

A brilliant learning session with everyone involved, asking questions and impressed with how much Alicia and Katherine have learned in such a short time. Thank you Alicia and Katherine - and Hannah who planned the session with them but has now moved to work at Wallyford Primary School.

Friday, 13 August 2010


We have all been shocked and disappointed today because the 3 visas to come to UK were all REJECTED by UK Immigration. The teachers has misunderstood the text that said the passports could be collected to mean the visas had been approved. So our last blog posting was wrong.

The teachers are very distressed and upset. At this moment, Friday at 11am UK time, Dr Cynthia has called a meeting to discuss the way forward for the Burma:Scotland Global School Partnerships.

This is dreadful news. Watch this space, we'll keep you posted.....

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Miraculously, after all that hard work by so many people, Say Hei, Pho Cho and Nee Shar got their visas to travel to the UK. Well, when I say 'got, what I mean is someone needs to travel to Bangkok to collect the visas but they are approved and ready. Louise was going to collect them but she's not well enough so Lisa is sorting it out. This is fantastic news.
PS Louise is now out of hospital and recuperating at home in Homestay.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Louise is ill

Many of you have written to say that you are now following Louise Laing's blog. Louise is Ms Laing's daughter and she is living in Mae Sot for about a year, helping and teaching at CDC Nursery and now also at Say Ta Nar School.

Louise has become quite ill with dengue fever and was admitted to hospital today. You can read more on her blog...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Rainy Season...

Coming back to Scotland, it's clear you've had a bit of a rainy season this summer. On the Thai Burma border, the rainy season has had much less rain than usual. The rice in the paddy fields is suffering and there are fears for crops. But when it rains, it rains... usually very suddenly and usually as we are out on our bikes. Here you can see what happens when the rain starts lashing down as the children are leaving school. Ugh!

Monday, 2 August 2010

CDC Boarding House Part 2 - Thank you Amber!

The Burmese and Karen people are the most generous hosts and they do love to feed visitors lots and lots of lovely Karen or Burmese food. Here you see the lovely spread they set out for us. They'd gone to lots of trouble to cater for our western tastes with battered chicken, plain rice and an eggy dish..... the girls had had a much plainer meal than us so we felt very guilty that they had cooked special food for us.
Sheila's usual agonising over eating food she's scared of!

Alicia sets Sheila a good example and has a go at everything....

After hearing about Burma from Ms Laing in Assembly, Amber Reilly in P7 determined to do what she could to help the Burmese children. She also spoke to Campie parents with Ms Laing about Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma.
P7 had their official charity for the year but Amber got her class to save up pennies throughout the year for the Burmese children. All in all, Amber and her friend Marley gathered in £80. On top of this a Campie parent had given us £50 so we put this together. At the end of the meal we gave Say Hei 3000 baht for her girls' boarding house and we gave Myo Nyunt 3000 baht for his boys' boarding house. They were both very happy to have this extra money to spend on the children. They asked us to say thank you very much Amber and Say Hei looks forward to thanking you when she comes to Campie.

We left the boarding house wondering if Campie could do more to help the boarding houses...

Living in a CDC Boarding House Part 1

CDC school has 520 boarders, children and young people whose parents have died in Burma or whose parents have sent them to Thailand to avoid hunger and worse or to get education. It's a mammoth task to find the funding to care for these children and young people. CDC seeks funding from many places to care for the children in large boarding houses. The CDC teachers live in the boarding houses, caring for the children after teaching them all day. Say Hei is the housemistress of a boarding house for 80 girls and young ladies. She invited us to the boarding house. This is the view from the 3rd floor of the 3 storey boarding house.
Say Hei and Sheila Laing with their daughters and with Say Hei's adopted son. Say Hei runs a very loving and nurturing boarding house. Pi Say Hei... grandmother Say Hei is what the girls call her. These girls cannot leave this house except to go to school. They can't go out to play as they are at risk of being arrested. They live their lives in this home and in school.

The girls are relaxing on a Friday evening, sitting about in groups having a blether....

Below you can see how much space each girl has to sleep in. They sleep side by side on their mats. Their bedding and mats are rolled up daily. Not much privacy or personal space here.

Each girl has a box for her personal possessions. Imagine girls, getting all your possessions in one box. Despite such little space, the girls take great care over their appearance and their belongings and they always look smart and well turned out.

Everyone's shoes are lined up, ready for going out. Shoes are taken off in Burmese homes.

There are toilets on each floor. Miss MacNaughton used this toilet, but then Miss MacNaughton used every toilet we passed!

All the girls are on a rota to clean, cook and care for their home.

Campie staff on the Thai Burma border

Above is my favourite photo of Alicia MacFarlane on the border. She is with Myo Nyunt, who was the excellent teacher who was Alicia and Hannah's interpreter. He's wearing his special Friday clothes.

Below is a Campie staff meeting right at the river that divides Thailand and Burma. We'd just been refused permission to travel to Burma because the border had been closed 'because of a problem Burma have in their country'. We went to the market on the border and had a coke in one of the cafes, which turned into such a boring Campie staff meeting that Geoff wandered off to take our photo!