By Frank Morgan
Frank is a former Palms volunteer who was among the first of our participants to work with the Australian Catholic University’s program on the Thai-Burma border, from 2009-2012. Following the recent passing of William Shwe, who started the program, Frank shares his thoughts on a man who championed equal access to quality education for members of Myanmar’s Karen minority community settled in Thailand. We join Frank in expressing our sympathies for William’s family and his community on either side of the border.
“William Shwe was first and foremost, a silent warrior, dedicated to the welfare of his people.
As the coordinator of the Thai/Burma ACU (Australian Catholic University) campus, he performed numerous functions, perhaps the most important being responsible for negotiations with the Thai authorities, allowing the ACU campus to provide tertiary education to Burmese refugees, within a safe environment.
I met William in 2008, having been appointed by Palms to the ACU program. He quickly found me temporary accommodation and helped me settle, and found a more permanent arrangement a few weeks later. He was always willing to help and became a valued friend. He would deliver the monthly food rations and frequently dropped in to check the well-being of the students. He played a vital role in the ongoing success of ACU. His contribution, friendliness and reliability were legendary. A true gentleman and a giant who walked among us. RIP my friend.”
The ACU program is ongoing and Palms is proud to be engaged in supporting schools on the Thai-Burma border with qualified teachers in solidarity with local minority communities.