Dear Friend of Shan Refugees,

What an exciting year 2016 was! Six of my former Shan students, all of whom fifteen years ago voiced the wish to “work for their country,” attended the Panglong Peace Conference in Burma (Myanmar) in September. Their photos sent a little thrill of happiness through me. I am so proud of them!

And it is comforting to know that other former students are also working in Burma, some behind the scenes, to ameliorate the wrongs the Shan have endured over the years. They are working to change the world they live in! I recorded many of their stories in my book, “The Shan: Refugees Without a Camp,” and I remember them with great admiration as I look at their photos. The book is available on Amazon or through me.

These fine young people are working toward their dreams but have not achieved them. There is no peace in Shan State. There has been a second Panglong Peace Conference since the one my former students attended (above), yet just this past November “At least ten people, both police and civilians, have been killed and 29 more injured in the fighting across northern Shan State…more than 2,700 Muse Township residents have been displaced from their homes and have taken shelter in four camps in Muse town, a township officer reported.” http://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/at-least-10-people-killed-in-shan-state.html Military attacks also continue in adjacent Kachin State, and the Rohingya Muslim minority has been run out of the country. There is no peace in Burma.

In late 2016, I went to a graduation ceremony for recent graduates to SSSNY, the school where I taught English in 2002 and 2003—an experience that triggered the initiation of our 501(c)3, Schools for Shan Refugees. The 2016 graduates wrote a song about their disappointment with Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, and who ultimately became the State Counselor for Burma, an equivalent position to that of Prime Minister: “I don’t care about your nationhood or where you were born/ I don’t care who or if you worship/ Can you tell bad from good?/ Open your eyes or give back the prize/ swallow your lies, or give back the prize”…..

The Shan continue to hope for better treatment in Thailand. We try to do our share by giving free basic education to their children in migrant workers’ camps. We now have schools in three camps, simple, bamboo shelters where they study English, Math, and Shan, their native language.

The Schools are below (Top to Bottom): Karn Kanook Two School; View School with Yvonne Garcia monitoring; Karn Kanook One School (school party in session); Last photo: With head teachers & clerk.

In the above photo, (Karn Kanook Two), teachers are planning at the back of the classroom. Class hasn’t started yet, but the treats (fruit) are waiting.

Thank you for supporting these fine young people with your donations of money, time, and love.

Among the several people who donated generously with time and money this year were Yvonne Garcia (below, right) and Lin Dimichaelle, (below, left). The kind folk of Unitarian Universalist Church also worked hard on behalf of the children.

 

By supporting the education of these young Shan people, by giving them the opportunity to learn to read and write, which many of their parents never had, you are making the world a better place for them.

A brief newsletter about trying to keep the mountain Shan warm in cold weather will follow.

Many thanks!
Sincerely,
Bernice Johnson

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