Peter*, an 11 year old Karenni boy lives with his parents in the Refugee Camp Ban Mai Nai Soi located in the Northern Part of Thailand. He was born and raised by his Catholic parents who were not married in church. According to his mother, she decided not to continue living together with her husband because she realized that as Catholics they should not live as husband and wife without the blessing of the church in the sacrament of marriage.
When Peter was asked how is he affected by the separation of his parents, he said “I don’t feel bad about it because I am also given the freedom by my parents. My mother allows me if ever I want to stay for some time with my father. They take turn in attending to my school activities. Although I wish that we will be together but my mother doesn’t want and I respect her decision. Though they are separated, I can feel how much they love me. I love them too and I will take care of both of them in the same way. That is why I really try my best to do good in my studies so I can support them. Though we are poor, they don’t fail to teach me good values in life. They always advise me to respect my teachers as they are my parents in the school. My teachers are good in teaching that is why I feel sad when some students don’t’ respect them. I want to become a good teacher in the future. I want to help the younger generation so they will change and improve their lives. At a young age, Peter has already shown his love for teaching. He is a leader of a Group Study that does peer teaching at home, a practice JRS and the school encourages.
Peter ‘s world only revolves around the refugee camp, as refugees are not allowed by the Thai authorities to go out of the camp. In such a situation, he has dedicated himself to his studies, and become a consistent awardee as the model student of the year. In his school the programme Education with a Heart has encouraged all the pupils to use what they have learned for the common good, and to consider the school as a family. Peter is trying to practice this in his own life. The mother proudly recounted that her boy is very responsible: after class, he does household chores without being told, like fetching water, collecting firewood and cooking. His mother suffers from back pain as a result of carrying heavy load for the Burmese and Karenni soldiers when they were in their village in the Karenni State. The mother told the story that one day when she was doing this task in the border, the Burmese army and the Karenni army had an encounter and so they had to run with the heavy load. On March 3, 2007, the Karenni army brought them to the refugee camp for safety. “I have a big dream for Peter.” said his mother with great emotion.
Peter’s mother continued:
“I believe that it is God who brought us to this camp. He saved us from the cruelty of the Burmese army. Here it is peaceful though life is also difficult especially in finding a job for a living. It also becomes harder now with the ration cut and other services reduced. I am just happy that my son is getting a good education from KnED, with the support of JRS and the donors, so I am very grateful to them. My only worry is when he goes to the higher level after high school because in KnNC (Karenni National College) here in the camp there are tuition fees but we have no source of income. I just pray and trust God, that He who brought us here will also take care of us. He will never abandon us. “
After meeting the family, Peter’s mother was advised to join the Family Friendship Group Meetings as part of JRS Accompaniment Program so she can avail the family of the Pig Raising Community Project. In this way, she will have a small source of income to support her son’s education to higher level.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.