Dear Friend,

Soon I will be in Thailand again, reviewing our projects for Shan refugees and migrants from Burma. In the following statement a former Shan student, who was in my English class and is now at university, encapsulated the situation of Shan migrants in Thailand now:

Sai Phumurng “They build houses but not their own. They produce foods, they eat little, benefits go to their employers. They get wages, little to save, little remittance. Benefits go to their employers. They can live here (Chiang Mai, Thailand) but in marginalized places (construction camps) and excluded by society.” [For more information, see links at the bottom of this letter.]

Most Shan refugee-migrants are afraid to return to Burma, or they have returned and found they couldn’t survive, so they go back to Thailand.

The above photo is of students at Poon Yaing agricultural camp in Thailand. Thank you for helping them to get an education by donating scholarship money to Schools for Shan Refugees so they can attend Thai schools. Here is a quote from Myo Aung, our head teacher and program coordinator in Chiang Mai: “Last Saturday, we had a meeting with professor from Education department of Chiang Mai university and she said the scholarship you provide is one of the most important reason to keep [enable] migrant children in school. With them [Chiang Mai University], we collaborate in research project and short film project.” We will share them with you when available.

You have also donated to View and Karn Kanook migrant schools, which we support in construction workers camps. I am attaching photos of the students in those camps to this newsletter.

When the Shan children we support attend Thai schools, they are lauded as outstanding students. Thai school administrators are now working with our teachers to study their methods and find out why impoverished Shan children from migrant camps are such excellent students. We want to keep them in school!

So, if you have been planning to donate to Schools for Shan Refugees in 2015 but haven’t done so yet, you could use the Pay Pal link above (Pay Pal charges 2.9% to handle donations) or you could send a check to me: Bernice Johnson, Schools for Shan Refugees, 2928 Dean Parkway, 3A, Minneapolis, MN 55416. The only charges we have ever incurred are those levied by the bank. The board pays all other expenses, which means that 99.9% of all donations go directly to the children.

It costs $140.00 per year to send a child to a migrant camp school. We have four scholarship categories for students in Thai schools. $30.00 per year, $100.00 per year, $200.00 per year, and $300.00 per year. The varying amounts depend upon the child’s age, need, and the distance they must travel to attend Thai schools. We would be grateful for donations of any amount.

Bernice Johnson, Director

Schools for Shan Refugees


Fighting continues in NE Shan State: 8.29.15 Fighting in NE Shan State:

More Fighting in Shan State 9.19.15:

3.   Sex workers – what we hope to save Shan youth from: 8.14.15 Underage girls as sex workers

4.   Abuse of Rohingya in Burma:

5.    Aung San Suu KYi a bust:


“Our greatest gift to others is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer,” Henri Nouwen


“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Dear friends of Shan Refugees:

Conditions in Burma are abysmal. The military is waging open warfare against people protesting the takeover of their country. It is not just the protesters who are in danger: Loi Kaw Wan, an encampment of Shan displaced persons, on the urma/Thai border north of Chaing Mai, has been shelled and residents cannot farm their land for fear of attack.

In the past, we supported six orphans at this site, and I am deeply saddened by the plight of their people. Below photo is with young women who lived at this encampment.

You can read more about the military coup here: go-on-trial-at-special-court-in-naypyitaw.html

The Burmese military blocked internet service for more than a month. When they still had it, a former student wrote simply, "Scared, Teacher."


Thailand is having a resurgence of COVID cases, and only 1% of the people have been vaccinated.

Our schools have been closed for some weeks and are tentatively scheduled to reopen in early June. When in session, they accomplish amazing things. Here is some information we gleaned from the last report from Shan Youth Power, SYP, which manages the education
programs, wrote about several outstanding students. She studies as Secondary level, grade at Nawamin Payap High School. Nong Tida always has a passion for working at social work organizing, and leading the students in the community for activities
such as organizing reading books, decorating the school to be clean, leading the students for environment activity, encouraging the community to reduce plastic by collecting the money and buying plates, spoons for using in community, such as birthday party. She always happy to join social activity workshops or camps that are provided by Shan Youth Power. She has a strong heart to help the community and wants to see migrant people have better future.

Nong Tida may not be outstanding in language skills such as English but she is an excellent in social work. In SYP, we are not just developing in academic studies, we guide them to be who they are, to follow their dreams. We believe people have different talents, which means that although we cannot be outstanding in everything, at least we do good for people, for society.

Noung Shwe Kyar is one of the outstanding students from KarnKanook2 Migrant School. She has been studying at Chiang Mai Vocational College as a first-year student in Design, academic year 2020.

Her words: I am one of the students who has received a scholarship from Bernice [ie, Schools for Shan Refugees]. I got scholarship since elementary school until grade-9. I knew about this scholarship from one alumni student who is living in the same camp with me. We learned at Migrant school together. I thought that I had difficult circumstances and my family had very low income. This scholarship can provide for food expenses at school or tuition fee. And volunteer teachers from Shan Youth Power also come to teach at our camp. Therefore, I got the scholarship. The difficult thing I have faced is the cost of passport and visa extension fees. There are 4 people in my family and we all are using passports as well... this year there is an additional blood test and covid-19 test. Due to Covid-19 pandemic many people had lost their jobs and it is hard to find a job.

My mom works as a housecleaner during this period it hard for her to get a job too. Especially, if you are migrant workers. Because some employers are afraid of migrant workers. They think that they will get infection with Covid-19 from migrant workers.

For example, we went to clean in a house but they did not want us to enter the house. As for my father, in the past he had many jobs and it was easy to get a job to work. Now, there is not many jobs like before so, it is hard for him to get a job too. And he has to work to pay for food day to day and no savings. In the past, migrant workers like us wouldn't study until high school. They would only study till middle school then start to work. [Our program is extending the education of Shan youth.]

We are completing a report about our teachers—five of whom were migrant camp students and got scholarships from us, some, like Nong Shwe Kyar, for as many as nine years. I will forward it soon.

In the meantime, we are hoping to keep the schools and scholarship programs afloat. We are ever so grateful to those of you who have donated. That money is in safekeeping until the education programs resume. If you have not donated this year and wish to do so, scholarships range from $30.00 per year for elementary students to $100, $200, and $300 per year for older students, attending vocational schools. Donations can be made through Pay Pal at our website: OR you may write a check to Schools for Shan Refugees and send it to

Mary Worner , Treasurer
28424 Water Street Road, Underwood, MN 56586

Many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Underwood for their continued support in the form of an annual grant. We are grateful. The Shan youth are grateful.

If we remain COVID free into fall, we plan to hold a 3-course Shan dinner fundraiser in Minneapolis. Hold the date: Saturday, October 9!


Bernice Johnson, Vice President Schools for Shan Refugees, Inc.

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