School for forgotton children

A school for the 'forgotten' refugee children on the north western border of Thailand is being highlighted by the Thai Children's Trust for lessons in Catholic schools across the UK to mark this year's Refugee Week 15-21 June.

Lesson plans have been drawn up by teacher, Ruth Flanagan, of the Thai Children's Trust for Geography Key Stage 2 and Human Rights Key Stage 3 classes to illustrate the plight of refugee children and their desperate need to escape poverty and receive an education.

Hsa Thoo Lei School in Mae Sot, run by a charismatic woman called Naw Paw Ray, who was herself a refugee, takes in over 700 Burmese refugees, almost all of whom are in Thailand illegally. Many are orphans or have parents who are still inside Burma.

The contribution Hsa Thoo Lei and the other small schools make to the children's welfare and safety is immeasurable. There are lessons in English and Thai, crucial for young people seeking to leave Thailand for a new life abroad.

School uniforms help the children to avoid arrest and from being forced to return to Burma. Those who are caught are rounded up for repatriation and face enlistment as soldiers or porters or are simply sold to brothels.

Some 35 informal schools draw on Hsa Thoo Lei's resources of teachers and materials. While the school provides the most amazing value for money, funding is a major problem and there is often not enough to even provide lunch for the students.

Ruth Flanagan says: "The refugee children at the Hsa Thoo Lei school are amazing.
We are hoping that schools may help us by supporting our Hsa Thoo Lei School Appeal for refugees, use our lesson plans, sponsor a child, volunteer or join our mailing list. For more information please visit:"

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