Dear Friend of Shan Refugees,

With your help, Schools for Shan Refugees had a good 2019! And your generous donations are making it possible for us to maintain the same level of service to Shan migrants and refugees in 2020.

In 2019 we supported three schools with a total of 74 students and gave scholarships to 74 students. We will be doing the same in 2020.

(Photo below courtesy of Yvonne Garcia, SSR board liason: Yvonne and board member Josh Kletschka with students at Poon Yaing agricultural camp, attending a Shan New Year’s gift giving event in Chiang Mai this January.)

Following are a few photos of classrooms and teachers.

In above photos, head teachers Hseng Merng, top, and Ying Kawn Tai, bottom, teach their respective classes.

With guidance from the SSR board, our Schools for Shan Refugees education program in Thailand uses all local staff to teach and administer the program. Most teachers are either graduates of the School for Shan State Nationalities training program, which was started by then-seventeen-year-old Shan activist Charm Tong, shown here with Bernice Johnson.

Some teachers have lived in the camps where they now teach and/or administer our scholarship program. See below for more.

Poung Poung (right) lived in Poon Yaing agricultural camp where we held classes for five years. She was not allowed to study during that time, because she had to care for her younger siblings. When they became self-sufficient, she started school and completed twelve years of schooling in just four years. She is now teaching young Shan students at our migrant schools, while studying for her GED so she can apply for university scholarships.

(Photo: with twin girls in the camp where she grew up.)

Teacher Nong Harn grew up in migrant camp Karn Kanook I, where we have a school and where she now teaches.

One of her students had difficulty learning. He compared himself to other students and became discouraged and no longer attended classes.

 To encourage him to return, Nong Harn changed her class format so there were no grades and won the child back to school.

Teacher Sai Bee (right) lives with his mother at a construction site. He is studying for his GED, so he can apply for university scholarships. Construction site housing is generally very humble, having fewer amenities than migrant worker camps.

Head teacher, Ying, at right, is in the middle of
this dynamic teaching trio. Ying’s parents died young, so she and her sister helped each other through school until Ying graduated with a degree in English Communications from Payap University

and started teaching for SYP, where she enthralls her students, who are among the most engaged young people I have ever seen.

Teacher Ae Ying is at the left side of this photo.
This is what she said when I asked her why she liked to teach Shan children. “When I was little, it was really hard for me to get an education … I grew up in a migrant community working in Chiang Mai and life was not easy. I received my education from learning centers in Chiang Mai. Now I have graduated from Payap University with a degree in English Communication. I want to share those opportunities with others because I believe that education improves our lives.”

Teacher Jing Boon, at right in photo above, grew up and studied with our school at Poon Yaing agricultural camp and is studying now at Rajhaphat University. She teaches the Shan and English languages and says she likes to teach Shan to the students because even though they don’t live in Shan State they should know their “mother language.”

Mickey Awn, with her parents in photo at right, studied at our agricultural migrant school, graduated and got further training; then she became a migrant school teacher.
She thought she could do more to help her people by becoming a nurse, so she got scholarships and studied at Chiang Mai University. She is shown here with her diploma. We are all proud of her!

Our male head teacher Hseng Merng, in the photo
at right, joined a Buddhist monastery when he was very young and studied there, but he had to leave to work with an uncle. He decided life was too difficult and finally got back into a state school against his mother’s objections, who thought he was too old. This is what he said about those years.
“I had only 2.6 years there [at the school]. I practiced a lot and went from a normal student to class president to team leader to school representative. It changed my mind set and my life. I wanted to continue my education even though it was so hard.” For three years he applied to get into SSSNY before he was accepted. (See Bernice and Charm Tong, top page 3.) He was “absolutely happy” at that time, he said. “I was the one who got a chance to change my world. I will be the one to give a chance to the children. I have worked with Shan Youth Power since 2008, and now I am the migrant school coordinator.”

Your donations have helped both youngsters and older students like Hseng Merng achieve their goals!

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

If you wish to keep the coffers filled for these young people, you make a donation through Pay Pal at our website:

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