7 March 2011
A group of 40 staff and volunteers made our way to the MMR Prayer Centre, a quite, peaceful retreat 10km ouside Ranong, to attend a “Rejuvenation Seminar” under the guidance of Fr John, which revolved around the theme “Listening to ourselves and more importantly, those we serve”.
Father John opened the seminar by outlining the difficulties in communications between the various nationalities not only within the MMR team but also among those we help. This has resulted in the common use of a mix of the Thai, Burmese and English languages and this language barrier sometimes poses quite a challenge to the smooth operations of the team and adds to the frustrations of day to day living.
Next we heard sharings by three individuals who in different ways were being helped by MMR. Their circumstances highlighted the diversity of ways that MMR are required to provide assistance, and the enormity of the task ahead of the team. All three presentations were made in Burmese and translations were provided in Thai and English, which graphically underlined the communication problems faced by all parties.
First up was Julie, a brave but shy young lady who related a heart-rending account of her life so far. She wept as she told us her sad tale and there was not a dry eye in the room. Julie was physically, emotionally and mentally abused in her younger days, and after her mother disappeared, Julie lived with her father in poverty. Her father wanted her to work to help supplement the family’s income but with MMR’s assistance, she is now enrolled in the Online Programme learning English. Hopefully Julie will be able to continue with her studies and her success will be a shining example for other young Burmese girls like her who are vulnerable and at risk of being exploited. It is MMR’s hope that parents of teenagers will realise that education is the road to a brighter future for the whole family.
The next speaker was Aye Doh. While in Myanmar, Aye Doh was imprisoned for making statements that were not in line with the administration. While on the inside, he had tattoos done with infected needles and unbeknownst to him, contacted HIV. On his release, he passed the virus onto his wife and to their third child. Their fourth and youngest child managed to escape their plight as she was lucky enough to receive retroviral medication at birth. Aye Doh carries a heavy burden of guilt, knowing that he has infected his family.
Unfortunately, Aye Doh’s story is not unique. MMR supports many clients like Aye Doh with expensive medication, palliative care and food parcels.
Last but not least, we hear from Aung The OO. The eldest in his family, this young man works as an unskilled builder’s labourer to help support his family. MMR has given him the opportunity to study English as well as build up his computer skills through the Chanel Community Centre. On completion of his course, he hopes his job prospects will improve and would like a career working with computers or to find work in a photographic shop. He is a classic example of a person with little or no future, grapsing an opportunity to better himself through education. He is grateful to MMR for giving him the chance to improve his lot in life and in return volunteers his time and assists with the Mission.
Unfortunately, due to monetary constraints, MMR can only provide a limited number of places in their classes for people like Aung The OO, but it is hoped that the successful candidates will set a good example to other young refugees and their parents.
Finally we concluded the day’s activities with group discussions and Father John suggested pairing up with someone else who spoke a different language. This resulted in much hilarity and light heartedness.
Lunch was served before the MMR staff made their way back to Ranong.