Saturday, 24 July 2010

Thank you Forthview Teachers for our uniforms

Very quietly around Christmas, two Forthview teachers sent Headteacher Thazin money to buy school uniforms for the Grade 6 children going on to High School. All the Grade 6 children we met said thank you for this. As they are scattered around the high schools, we only managed to get photos of Phyu Phyu Win and Si Si Win in their uniforms but here they are. 'Thank you teachers. We always remember you.'

Hle Bee's ever improving building

Mon Sein showed Geoff the impressive water purification system, which was installed last year and which he manages. He's Thazin's brother and the tuk tuk driver/janny. Here you can see Mon Sein's new house. He lived in the demolished tuck shop. It's a bit like a gatehouse now because they've built a gate to secure the school site. You can see it on the left of the picture below.
Last year, we watched them build the teachers' house on the right. It's finished now but the teachers are all new, we don't know any of them.

A new wee house has been built for headteacher Thazin and for Wei Hei, her niece. The tuk tuk is parked in front of it.

The building at the back is the one that had its leaf roof blown off in the storm and has been rebuilt with a metal roof and made bigger.

Better shot of the gate which slides along.

Finally, Dr Elisabetta had just had 2 bags of rice delivered to cook for the children's meals. Hard times continue at Hle Bee. Mon Sein told us, 'No curry, only rice.'

The Hle Bee family

We made a last visit to Hle Bee on Friday, the day everyone was celebrating the start of Buddhist Lent and sadly the only people at school were Mon Sein, his wife and Y Sander Way, the baby Louise has always been very fond of. Wei Hei was there too. We had brought some presents for Y Sander Way, Wei Hei and Toto, the children of Hle Bee staff. Each year, we bring photos we've printed of the baby Y Sander Way and this thrills her mum and dad. She is almost 3 and loves them now herself.

Aung Aung

We got a lovely surprise last Sunday night when we got a phone call, 'Teacher Sheila, it's Aung Aung. Can I come and see you?' So on Monday morning, we shared a wee breakfast with Aung Aung, who was the oldest boy at Hle Bee when we first went. He was Jason Cunningham's friend and he immediately asked us how Jason was. Somebody please tell Ruby to tell Jason.
Aung Aung is now 17 and is at New Blood School in Grade 9. He is a boarder but goes home every week to his home in the paddy fields. Yup that's the one I fell in. His English continues to improve and he looks great. We took the laptop down to the cafe and sat and showed him photos of himself 4 years ago when he was 13. We were touched that he made the effort to find us and see us. We haven't seen him for 2 years. Just lovely.

Hle Bee 2010

The Campie teachers visited Hle Bee on Friday 9 July, after their first visit to CDC. It was right at the end of the week and the classes were mostly working on their own as the staff were all having a meeting. The children were as friendly as ever as you can see above. The Grade 3 and 4 children were delighted to see Louise Laing as she had taught them from August 09 - January 2010.
The classes and buildings have changed a bit since last year. Thazin, the headteacher, has discontinued the Grade 5 and Grade 6 classes as there were so few children in them and so many further down the school. Funding played a part in this and Hle Bee has continued to struggle for funding this year. Additionally, a storm earlier in the year blew the roof of the Grade 4 building, which was the big building at the back so they used this opportunity to knock down the tuckshop house and extend those classrooms and put a new metal roof on the back building from funding they managed to obtain.

I was delighted to see the Art Teacher there. He was teaching Grade 3 and has been one of the constants in Hle Bee's ever changing staff team for the last 4 years. He told me he had read about Campie's Tent Arrests for Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday and was one of many to ask why I had started a new partnership. They find it hard to understand that I am at a new school now. Also that nobody has come from Hle Bee to Forthview and that has halted the funding for the partnership.
There were one or two children in Grade 4 who remembered Teacher Irvine from last year. Way Lu Kyaw is in Grade 4 for the 4th year running, having failed his examination every single year. He was the only child there I really knew well, having visited his family the day I fell in the paddy field ditch. The Grade 5 and Grade 6 pupils have gone on to high school OR back to Burma OR out to work. We were happy that so many of them have made it on to high school.

Dr Cynthia Maung of Mae Tao clinic called together a meeting of the 3 Mae Sot schools that now have a Global Schools Partnership. The Pirniehall teachers had arrived so it was represented by 5 of the 6 schools involved - Say Ta Nar and Pirniehall, Campie and CDC and Thazin 9pictured above) came to represent Forthview/Hle Bee. At the meeting, Thazin spoke of her fears of travelling outside Thailand. She is really terrified to go back to Burma in case she is arrested. However, her nephew Yen Yen, who teaches at the school is free to go to Burma as is our Guardian Angel so the plan is that they will get passports then try to come to Forthview next Spring. They will need money to pay for passports and visas. However, we have had a very effective fundraising group going on for most of the last year and together the 3 Scottish schools should manage this fine. So that is the plan to take Forthview-Hle Bee partnership forward. It would mean that 2 Forthiew teachers may be able to come to Hle Bee next year, which would make Hle Bee so happy.

This is a wonderful picture of our dear friends Si Si Win and Phyu Phyu Win, engaged in debate at CDC, working with Campie teachers. As you can see, the girls are very well and LOVING high school so much. They are very keen to know how Teacher Irvine and Teacher Fiona are and were disappointed not to see you both Fiona and Irvine.

Here is Little Htet, the very clever boy who was in Grade 6 last year. We met him while we were visiting Si Si Win's house and he looks great. Irvine, he remembers you! We told him we would show you this photo.

Finally, we also went to Phyu Phyu Win's house. You may remember during our second visit, Fiona and I were eating at the night market and they took us over to see Phyu Phyu Win's house and we were distressed because it was a tiny corrugated iron shed for 6 people to live in. Last year she had moved to a better house. We met her at CDC and arranged with her to meet her at her home then go to visit Si Si Win's family (Irvine and Fiona had gone to Si Si Win's house last year and we wanted to visit again.) However this year, when we went to PPW's house, she wasn't in. When we saw her at school on the Monday, she told me they'd been waiting and Si Si Win's mum had made loads of food but we didn't come. Eventually we discovered that Phyu Phyu Win had moved house again and she hadn't told us so we went to the wrong house! So Burmese. In this photo, you can see Si Si Win, Phyu Phyu Win and Su Pone Chit lying on top of Louise. They all love Louise here and she makes our visits so much easier because she can speak some Burmese. Don't the girls look great? Su Pone Chit is at Satoolay (not how you spell it!) School with Tominaing and Sau Tong Chit Win. The children were all asking for their Scottish friends. Si Si Win, asking for Sophie, Phyu Phyu Win asking for Christopher, Su Pone Chit asking for Steven Grieve.
It was lovely to be at Hle Bee but they really did miss their Forthview teachers.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Summer 2010 in Mae Sot

Sadly Forthview are not able to come to Mae Sot this summer as we are waiting on a Burmese teacher from Hle Bee coming over to Forthview. However, Pirniehall are arriving in Mae Sot on 12 July 2010 and Campie are already there so keep up to date on their blogs.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Beond Rangoon at Leith Festival

To celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday, St Margaret's Church, Easter Road are showing the film Beyond Rangoon at 7.30pm on Friday 18 June. All welcome. Admission free.