Students from the Marist Secondary School Dundalk, Ireland have been making the journey to Ranong, Southern Thailand for the past 3 years to discover a little about what life on a misson is like.
Each year the students take part in Summer camps organised in a Thai school but attended by Burmese migrants also. Here they teach English to local Thai and Burmese students, do activities and generally get to know the children.
Fr. Jimmy McElroy is the longstanding link between these two communities facilitating the trip each year with teacher Michelle Dullaghan on hand to keep things running smoothly.
This year they even had a cameraman with Michelles’ husband Wayne Doherty coming along to discover what is it that keeps Michelle coming back!
This year’s group of 8 students came ready to take on the challenge of teaching. They had the lessons prepared and were even armed with hurleys and footballs – GAA has reached Ranong! Watch out Co. Louth there could be a few new players coming your way soon.
The entire trip provides exposure to many new and varied experiences for the visiting students; from arrival in Bangkok navigating the Skytrain to the Buddhist Temples and Grand Palace to arriving in the tropical and more traditional town of Ranong.
On Saturday they crossed the border to Myanmar by boat, visiting the charming but chaotic town of Kawthung.
Fr. Gregory was tour guide in his mighty minibus taking on the hairpin bends to the fabulous viewpoint before a very tasty lunch at the kindergarten, a visit the Sisters from Our Lady of the Misson and a quick spin around the local area and a chance to pick up some souvenirs before hopping onto our boats for the choppy crossing back to Thailand.
The rest of the week was a blur of classes and activities with 3 full days in Eakasin Thai School teaching the English Camps. They covered many topics like the weather, directions, sports and hobbies and put their new words into practice with classic games like “stuck in the mud” and ” Simon Says”.
The week finished up with a day in the MMR centre.
Some of the students spent the morning teaching about life in Ireland and getting taught about life in Myanmar and Ranong in return.
Meanwhile the girls accompanied the health team on their home visits and met a few of the many HIV AIDs patients in the community.
In the afternoon everyone hit the sports field trialing the new equipment – putting the theme of “fun and friendship” into action.
The day wrapped up with a talk from the director of the health program at MMR, Kirsten Sloan, about the work the program does providing care and education for those with HIV AIDs.
After a well deserved day off – the group hit the road for the journey back to Ireland taking with them great memories, new friends and the knowledge they have made a difference.