Thailand Land of Smiles

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This is our third year in Chiang Mai ......

  Actually this time, two years later, we are in Thailand for only eight weeks, not for a whole year. Six weeks of that time will be spent working with EWOB. Carol will teach organization & community management to Burmese refugees in the semester long, open university program. Norbert continues as its registrar but this year will train a Burmese information technology professor to take over as his assistant providing the liaison to students and faculty.

  Since the academic program occupies only part of our week, we continue our involvement in the refugee camp site programs. As part of this, we collected SI_FtC_1donated children’s clothing from neighbors and several churches. With our front bedroom as a staging area, we loaded four huge suitcases full of these donations. There are two reasons these donations are sorely needed and will be deeply appreciated this year:

  First, this past spring, the Burmese military launched new attacks on Karen and Karenni ethnic villages. Whole villages were burned, resources stolen, men arrested and sent to forced labor camps, women assaulted, and children left homeless. As a result, nearly 20,000 new refugees fled across the border with only the clothes on their backs. They inundated camps already stretched to capacity.

  Secondly, this winter continues to bring unusually cold weather to the regions where most of the refugee camps are located. With smaller bodies, children are especially vulnerable to the cold. Illness is on the rise in the camps. As a result, EWOB asked all volunteers to bring as many blankets and children’s clothing as possible for distribution in these areas. The kind people of Fort Collins answered this call. The airlines allowed us extra baggage weight free of charge. All we did was carry these items as luggage.

  In addition, to our volunteer work, we will visit the Thai family that hosted us during the Peace Corps. We will visit with Aon, a gifted young women we met during our time in the Peace Corps. She is now finishing her bachelor’s degree in English thanks to four years of support by the United Methodist Women of Grove, OK.

  Finally, we have hopes of some vacation side trips, perhaps to Laos, perhaps to Nepal. Our decision depends a great deal on how well Norbert is able to handles the demands of the area. In any case, the purpose of these web pages is to keep you informed about what and how we are doing. We also hope, to some extent, to let you take part in our adventure.

  Although our internet connection is less than we had hoped, we welcome your emailed responses. With that said…let the show begin!