Migrant Stories of Hope: On weekdays I work until 12am.. I often get sleepy in class

Hello, my name is Wai Yan Naing, I am 16 years old and I am studying year 4 at MAF.

I was born in Thailand and I moved to Myanmar when I was 5 years old, I studied there till grade 3. Then my parents brought me back to Thailand to live on a rubber plantation where my family works.

My mother heard that there was a migrant learning centre in Ranong but there was no transport from the plantation so I stayed at home that

year. The year after that I sat the entrance test for MAF, when I came to sit the exam I was by myself and I had no friends or any lunch to eat.

I was accepted into Year 1 and I was able to find transport to get to MAF. To come to school I need to wake up at 5am, the local bus comes to pick me up at 6am and then I need to get off and wait for the MAF school bus. I arrive at school at 8:40am and school starts at 8:45am. It is very busy, then I finish at 3:30pm and just like in the morning I need to take 2 buses to get home. When I get home I take a rest for 30 minutes then I begin to help my parents.

On the weekdays I have to work on the rubber plantation until 12am, then I come back to sleep, but my older brother and father continue to work on the plantation. During class time I always feel sleepy and sometimes I fall asleep but my teachers always understand.

My first two years at school I didn’t communicate much with the other students and didn’t have many friends. I was very shy and afraid to talk but now I’m friends with everyone at MAF.

As year 4 are the oldest students, we have a responsibility to be the leaders of the school. In the morning my duty is a flag leader, this means I have to lead the school in raising the flag and singing the Thai national anthem.

When it’s lunch time I go to the library and clean up the books or read. Usually only girls read books at lunch time so I make friends with a lot of them, they all call me brother, uncle, or grandfather because I was born with some grey hairs.

At school I try and stay happy and make jokes with my friends even though I am always tired from working. My English teachers always asks “Are you okay Wai Yan Naing?” I often get sleepy.

My ambition is to be educated as much as I can and earn a lot of money for my family, I want them to spend the rest of their life peaceful and happy.

My biggest wish is that everyone is happy and always smiling, especially my friends. I don’t want anyone else to cry because of my mistakes or jokes. I hope that whoever is reading this has a smile on their face.