Sr Francis Hayes has been in Mae Ramat on the Thai/Myanmar border since 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 is a collection of photos and commentary shared by Frances over the past couple of months.
Above, Frances and the dormitory girls are productively shelling (and eating) Tamarind which grows on trees in the school grounds. The students picked them previously and dried them in the sun. The students said they add it to their food to ‘make food sour’. All assured Frances they ‘then go to toilet!!!’
To celebrate Children’s Day in Thailand and to have a break I went up to the mountains to a village called Ba Nii Phu where the local Karen Sisters run a Centre for children from further up the mountains so they can stay to attend school (many mountain villages do not have schools). The donated rice (pictured above) was too damp to be put through the threshing machine. Before we went to the celebration we spread out the rice to dry (while we were out). To get the best of the sun it was necessary to have it spread very thinly. On our return we gathered it all up into sacks and dragged them to the machine where one of the workers and the older boys scooped it into the threshing machine. It was then separated into edible rice for the Centre to use to feed the children and chaff to feed the ducks (who would later also be used to feed the children).
Above, some year 10 students have prepared three types of drinks and pork crackling which were sold to parents and students after the primary school parents meeting. The ‘To Be Number 1’ signage refers to a dancing competition held throughout the provinces requiring students to compose a song and dance routine about their school, village or community. Four year 10 girls won the Mae Ramat area! The two girls wearing orange t-shirts (on either side of Frances) were advertising the competition and giving out water and cake.
Above left, Frances’ Year 11 class are arranging the decorations ready for the “congratulations concert’ for Year 3, 6 and 12. The photo on the right is of Jansawang and Frances at the year 12 celebrations where students and teachers exchange gifts – candy, snacks, photos, money, stickers and soft toys.
Frances Hayes is learning much about the Thai culture and the importance placed on festivals, ceremonies, and celebrations and all the preparations involved. Whether it be a ceremony to farewell a retiring teacher, Loy Kratong Festival, Chinese New Year, the Queens birthday, or celebrations for the graduation of year 12, year 6 and year 3, English lessons have to be adapted and worked around these significant events.