Sr Francis Hayes arrived in Mae Ramat on the Thai/Myanmar border in June 2022. Frances is a teacher from Western Australia, experienced in working with refugees. She is working alongside three local teachers and teaching English to Thai students at St Josephs School as well as providing additional English language learning opportunities for the many current dormitory students from Myanmar. Below Francis reflects on childhood and the children we encounter.
Celebrating World Children’s Day, we acknowledge all children of the world and their right to have their basic needs met along with the provision of good quality personal care, education, and health care.
The second Saturday of January has traditionally been celebrated in Thailand as “Children’s Day” and it was initially regarded as a day when all children, especially the unregistered or undocumented, became a year older now it seen as a day of fun, games, parties and presents. While the primary aim of a school is to meet the educational needs of its students and to endeavour to provide them with the skills, they will need to develop their potential.
Another initiative of the Thai government has been to supplement the diets of school children by providing cartons of milk for daily consumption. The milk is delivered in bulk to the school and stored ready for use. Here at St Joseph’s, each day pairs of children come and collect their allotment from the cooler and take to their classroom. They then refill the cooler with tomorrow’s supply. Indicating the importance of the health needs of growing children, recently a former school director was jailed extensively for supplying inadequate meals to the kindergarten children in his care. Without adequate food for the body, it is difficult to enrich the mind.
Childhood should be a time of play, laughter, happiness, creating memories and learning life skills.
Here I’m teaching Kindergarten a song
In Thailand during World Children’s Day, we are especially aware of the recent tragedy that occurred with the deaths of thirty-seven children and adults in the killings at the nursery school. The community and the nation mourned this tragic event and will continue to mourn. The trauma will unfortunately remain for a long time. All that the parents and friends now have are the memories of the experiences they shared and the hopes of what might have been. Each of them dreamed of a better tomorrow – one where everything would be richer, safer, and more peaceful in our world.
As we reflect on this day, we might spend time recalling the children we have encountered.
As they fall peacefully asleep what memories do they have of us?
How did we enable them to feel more dignified, unique, loved?
How did we encourage them to grow more confident, independent, strong, self-reliant?
Do they believe they are richer for having experienced and interacted with us?
Teaching children is both a huge responsibility and a deep joy. Let us celebrate!