THAILAND/BURMA REFUGEE CAMPS 2014
Page 2

As Rick and I anticipated our recent trip to Thailand to visit the refugee camps, we were determined to set up travel arrangements in advance.

I contacted my contacts in both camps to ascertain the best time to visit. Lucky, my Mae La contact, told me he was available to help on Saturdays or Sundays since he teaches at a school in the camp.

My contact in Mae Rah Moe, Pastor Thein Than Aye, said week days worked best for him.

I requested camp passes from Karen Refugee Committee in both areas through my long time contacts. We sent our passport pages and they arranged the passes and hired trucks and drivers for us.

We were all set, however, even the best laid plans can go awry as we found out once we arrived.

We had an uneventful 15 hour flight from Atlanta to Korea, then a 5 hour flight on to Bangkok. We had anticipated that we would need a couple days rest, so Rick made reservations for us in Bangkok for 2 nights.

Our first night in the hotel, we were contacted by a Karen couple, Eh Mwee and Dah Moo, who I have known for several years. They were living and working in Bangkok with their 3 year old son and wanted to come to our hotel and take us out to dinner.

Eh Mwee was 11 years old when I met him in a Karen soldier's camp on the banks of the Salween River. Since he was an orphan, I just couldn't leave him in the jungle after the enemy troops had over run the area. So with the permission of the soldier who was caring for him, I took him to the nearest town, Mae Sariang, and left him with an older Karen man I had known for 18 years. He agreed to make all the arrangements to get him into a Thai boarding school and our organization paid for his tuition, room & board, and a Thai ID until he graduated. I have always called him my "Karen son" and he calls me Mommy.

They came to our hotel and we had a wonderful Thai dinner at a restaurant recommended to them. They had bought a Thai cell phone for us, so we will no longer have to borrow a phone while we are there and can stay in contact with our network of contacts on the border who help us during our stay.

Eh Mwee and Dah Moo are a remarkable couple who have overcome years of adversity. Eh Mwee has a job as janitor/maintenance at Calvary Baptist church where they attend. The church provides them with a room, so they don't have to pay rent. Dah Moo works two jobs as care giver and housekeeper for two Australian families. Their son, Eh Blessing Moo, is 3 years old and attends a Christian pre-school. He is taught English 2 days a week and Thai 3 days. He already speaks Karen. Dah Moo walks Blessing 1/2 hour to school every morning, then walks another 1/2 hour to her first job. She then walks back to Blessing's school to get him, walks him home to stay with Eh Mwee and then walks to her second job. Regardless of the weather, rain or shine, she walks 2.5 hours a day when Blessing attends school. When I remarked how hard that must be on her, she just smiled and said the Lord had blessed them with jobs and good health and she was happy to be able to do it! It was sad telling them good bye, but we will stay in touch with them as always.

After our second night's stay in Bangkok, we took the 1 hour morning flight to Lampang, which would be our "headquarters" at the home of Rudy and Tai. Rudy is an American married to a Thai lady. I have known Rudy for about 16 years and he is the one who gets our money for Mae La camp children into the camp. I should say it normally takes 1 hour. It had been raining hard in Lampang, very unusual for November. We were told it was storming so badly that our flight was not able to land, so we were diverted to Chiang Mai. We waited there until the decision was made that the weather was not going to improve and they put us all on bus and took us back to Lampang. What was supposed to be a 1 hour trip, turned into 4 hours!

 

 


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