Thailand

Letter from Thailand

By Ms. Wakako Matsumoto (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)

Dengue fever is prevalent in Thailand now and many people around Ms. Matsumoto have it. Ms. Matsumoto wrote to us.

<Plang Jai Pooying>
The leaders in Plang Jai Pooying live based on Chiang Mai. They sometimes go back to their home villages to discuss on their situation and handicrafts.
138_08The member, one after another, says that it is difficult to make handicrafts since August. It is due to the health problem. The members themselves and their family members are not well. Some of the members in Chiang Mai are sick, too. We wondered that dengue started spreading this year again and hope they will get well soon. However, it has become worse and more people get sick. I asked their symptom and they said that besides the high fever they have sputum with blood and internal bleedings all over the body. It is dengue hemorrhagic fever and epidemic this year. In Chiang Mai it is breaking out most in Sankamphaeng and people ask me, "How are you? Do you have fever or bleeding?" instead of "Have you eaten?" After that new influenza also started spreading and people talk about health everywhere.

Letter from Thailand

By Ms. Wakako Matsumoto (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)

Sankamphaeng School is one of the mission areas of Ms. Matsumoto. The atmosphere of the school is different from last year. She wrote to us about the difference.

<Sankamphaeng School>
This year's students change themselves often and I see and learn the new quality of them everyday.
The teachers have never experienced to worry so much about first-year students and Japanese class before. This year most of the students are not motivated to study and dropout rate is higher than usual. Usually there are a few dropout of the school but the reason is different this year.
137_11Normally the reason of dropout of Sankamphaeng School has mainly been a financial problem. Most of the parents of the school students run small shops or work in the local market and every year some students stop their study to help their parents' job for better income. This year, however, the main reasons of dropout are marriage or trouble with their lovers.
The change has worried Japanese teacher Mr. Pole who has six years of teaching experience. He is more worried about remaining students than those who drop out.
In Thailand the sale and use of drug among high school students are increasing this year, and more students of Sankamphaeng School have been arrested than past years. The school often holds seminars by various organizations and police but the situation has not improved so far. People worry that needle-sharing among drug uses causes the infection of HIV/AIDS. Teachers think that rather than holding seminars the school should create better atmosphere for students to get interested in studying so that the students can think of their future and enjoy learning and then the drug problem will be lessened.

Letter from Thailand

By Ms. Wakako MATSUMOTO (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)

<Agriculture and Art craft workshop>
About 20 women attended the workshop. They are from Chiang Mai, Chiangrai, Mae Hong Son, Phayao and other northern areas. Some of them had attended the seminar last year and said that they could have got to know the people and situation of other areas and been a meaningful one. A few men attended the workshop this year, too, which will help people to understand and support the activities carried on by women.

The workshop began with the retreat leaded by Sister's talk to reflect our experience and see how much 136_08it was connected to our religious faith.
After the retreat, we introduced ourselves. One Karen woman started telling the reason why she attended the workshop. She is always positively doing the activities. "I want to get ideas from the seminar to make use of our traditional technique to revitalize the area." We felt her strong thoughts on their traditional technique and own race. Her statement made the atmosphere of the workshop rather serious.

Letter from Thailand

By Ms. Wakako MATSUMOTO (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)

<Bwe K Ler Primary School>
I wrote about the donation of a school bus to Bwe K Ler Primary School in my last letter but unfortunately it has been dropped. About fifty children are waiting for the day they can go to school. I get depressed for a moment but I realized that my depression would not help the situation. I started searching for the new supporter.
There are many unauthorized schools like Bwe K Ler Primary School for migrants' children in Mae Sot. Most of them being here is illegal but much safer than in their own village. Assuring the place for their long-term study determines their future.
I think this is the challenge given by God. I do not know how to deal with it now but I want to be strong enough to handle each challenge in any situation.


<Temporary return to Japan>
I returned to Japan temporarily from 10th October for two weeks after two and half years' absence. Thailand is a country of rice and I did not miss rice and Japanese food, but once I faced the fresh fish in my hometown, my appetite never stopped. Neither did my weight's increasing. Having returned to Chiang Mai, I reflected it.
During my stay in Japan I had opportunities to introduce my activities in Hodogaya Church, Minamata Church in my hometown and Izumi Church in the neighboring town. I had also a chance to introduce my activities to the interested people other than the church people. I could learn from the experiences and the opinions of those who attended the sessions. I met the Sister who had affected my becomin132_07g a Lay missionary. When I was a child, she used to talk about children in various situations and pray in my ear in Sunday school every week. Honestly speaking I hoped the school being over soon. I had never imagined of getting influenced by the Sister's talk.
I understand the gap between rich and poor is getting wider in Japan and there are a lot of criticisms of Japan. It is easier to see the negative side of Japanese society from outside the country. Knowing and admitting myself I have to make efforts to correct my faults. We should do the same to our country. We Japanese are given big potentials and wide choices and all are left to our efforts.
When I attended Mass in the church in my home town, I remembered my root and realized that I owe the church for what I am now and I was given a chance because of being Japanese. I appreciate the support from many people. It gives me the energy to work on new projects.

Letter from Thailand -131

By Ms. Wakako MATSUMOTO (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)

Ms. Wakako Matsumoto who has been working in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2007 wrote to us about what she had learned in the activities and the relation with Karen and Lahu tribes.

<Bwe K Ler Primary School>
Bwe K Ler Primary School is situated in the suburb of Mae Sot. It is a school for immigrants' children and I 131_01have visited there a few times since last year. Mainly Burmese Karen children study in this school. They stay in the neighbor villages or dormitory. Most of those in the dormitory are orphans. Their parents were killed by the Burmese Army or died by mines. In Burma children do not have opportunities to receive the education and in many cases their parents entrust their children to their acquaintances who leave for Mae Sot. According to the teachers in the school, as the orphans have the high risk to be caught and become child soldiers, the school admits orphans positively. Now hundred and ten boarders and hundred day pupils study in the school. But seventy children who want to study but have no access to the school are waiting for the chance. People in Japan are raising fund to buy the school bus. Compared to Japan vehicles are rather expensive in Thailand. Even used cars are sold at such prices that we can buy much better car in Japan. School bus will be used by children. Japanese supporters choose the bus very carefully considering the safety and cost.
At first I said "There is a school which needs a school bus." to Japanese couple who were supporting children's' education in northern Thailand for long time and used to visit Chiang Mai. Then the couple asked their friends to raise fund for it.
Every time when I visit the school I mention about the situation of the bus being arranged in Japan. Whenever I contact the school they ask me anticipating, "Is the bus coming? Is it coming tomorrow? The day after? Next week?" I always answer, "They are now raising fund in Japan."
When I visit school I always find new problems. The director of the school who is the former principal is busy solving the problems.

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