Renewing a Marist commitment

kirstenrenewaKirsten Sloan, a Lay Marist from New Zealand, renewed her commitment to the Marist Association of Mary recently at Ranong.

As a qualified Nurse and with extensive experience in serving overseas among those most in need, Kirsten arrived as a Marist lay missionary in Ranong in 2013.

Kirsten manages the Marist Mission Ranong HIV-AIDS project supporting many Burmese migrants living with HIV-AIDS.

The whole Marist Mission Ranong team and the Burmese Migrant Community benefit from Kirsten’s knowledge experience and great compassion.

Kirsten shared how “making a commitment to live as a lay Marist is saying Yes to grow in the love of Christ with Mary as my mother, my guide. It is Mary who encourages me, nudges me, gives me courage to step out.”

Kirsten acknowledged that living as a lay Marist is a daily challenge but also a beautiful joy. “As I learn to grow in faith with Mary I also hope that I take on her spirit of gentleness, patience, and bring present to others.”

“Ultimately I learn to think, judge and act like Mary my mother and first disciple. What a wonderful guide for me to have and journey to be on for life.”

The Marist Project in Ranong benefits greatly from the witness and contribution of lay missionaries from around the world willing to serve in the spirit of Mary. The Marist Community seeks to provide opportunities for reflection and teaching of the Marist spirit with volunteers as part of their experience working with Marist Mission Ranong Project.









Health Team participates in International HIV AIDS Congress

Saw Toby (2nd from left) with other participants

Saw Toby (2nd from left) with other participants

Three members of the Marist Mission Ranong Health Team participated in the International Congress on Aids in Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok recently. It was an incredible experience with over 4,000 participants working in the field of HIV AIDS.

Saw Toby of Marist Mission Ranong was incredibly grateful for all those who helped and provided him with a scholarship to attend.  From Burma, and having worked for the past year with the Health Team, it was Saw Toby’s first experience of the large city of Bangkok.

“As a participant in this congress I gained a lot of knowledge such as how to deal correctly with a user of drugs, how to understand those involved in the sex industry etc.  To be honest, there were so many new ideas and things I had never heard of before.”

Attending the congress with so many other organisations from so many countries provided a great opportunity to learn more.  Saw Toby commented that the key population that are at the most risk for HIV AIDS infections are Men having sex with Men, Sex Workers, and those who have a lack of knowledge and education about HIV AIDS.

The emphasis of the congress was to aim toward the goal of Triple Zero: Zero new HIV AIDS infection, Zero Deaths and Zero Discrimination.

Saw Toby now feels a responsibility to share what he has learnt with his family, community and other people who live in remote areas.

Giving them freedom through education

David (L) with fellow seminarians Daniel and NIno, and with the youth of one of the camps.

David (L) with fellow seminarians Daniel and NIno, and with the youth of one of the camps.

I really enjoyed my time in Thailand – ‘the country of the smile’.

After a time of retreat in Chiang Mai, I arrived in Ranong with a big desire to share and show the love of God among the Burmese Migrants.

My time with Marist Mission Ranong made me feel that I really needed to do something. I need to share all that I have and the gifts that I have.

One of the biggest parts of my journey as a Marist volunteer with Marist Mission Ranong was the time I spent in the refugee camps.

Being with the people there, and especially the young people, my soul asked me to be

  • deeply involved with the poor
  • those that do not have a voice
  • those that do not have freedom.

Only with freedom can people really have a voice. And only with a voice they can have a dream to continue their lives.

I realised I could help these people with my voice and my freedom! And I hope I can do this deeply in the future.

This experience of service and love in Thailand with Marist Mission Ranong has encouraged me as I choose to make my final profession as a Marist. Thanks to the community and team at Marist Mission Ranong!

David Sanchez’ 

Keep their voice loud

Recently I had a great opportunity to know the reality of migrants from Myanmar living on the Myanmar-Thai border.

In Ranong, I taught English in a learning centre and I was amazed by the children’s interest in learning and by their respect for their teachers.

Daniel and Burmese students

Daniel and Burmese students

I also realized that learning English and Thai can make the difference for them in having and not having “a future”.

I was also able to work with the HIV AIDS Project.

Our help is integral, but what the patients value most is to know that somebody cares for them.

I could see how a terminal patient felt relieved and calm after our visit.

We did very little during our short visit, but for that person we brought relief.

He died less than 48 hours later.

The last part of my experience was the visit to three refugee camps in the Northwest of Thailand. The life in the refugee camp is very tough.

  • the refugees cannot get out of the camp,
  • nor go freely into Thailand
  • they cannot farm nor work
  • they have no money and almost no rights
  • they depend on UNHCR and other NGO’s
  • their life is monotonous and without attraction.

It seems they do not exist, and are trapped in the middle of the jungle.

Marist Mission Ranong - Education of Refugees

Children in the Refugee Camps

Two camps have dormitories for children whose parents have gone back to Myanmar but the children remain to study.

During our farewell, one boy with whom I had had a nice chat asked me:

‘Will you remember me?’

‘Yes, I will,” I replied.

“Good, because I’ll remember you’, he said.

‘Will you pray for me? ’, he asked again.

‘Sure,’ I replied.

‘Good, I’ll pray for you too,’ he added.

Lastly, he asked me, ‘Will you miss me?’

Then, with my heart touched, I replied, ‘yes, I’ll miss you’.

How big has to be your longing for appreciation, for attention, for acknowledgement in order to ‘beg’ a stranger to miss you?

In this moment I realized what it is like to be a refugee: they feel abandoned and ignored.

These people need many things, especially good education and basic resources, but I have realized that the only thing I could do for them now is to keep their memory alive and their voice loud and not to allow our memories and consciences rest until they will be able to return to their real home.

For these are the lowly ones; those of whom Mary foretells in the Magnificat that were lifted up by the Lord (Lk 1,52). They should be the most important because they are the least ones.

Daniel Fernandez’ 

Supporting Burmese migrants in the HIV AIDS health project

My name is Ma Su Mon Aung – or Kimberly in English – and I’m one of the Burmese Migrant girls in Ranong, Thailand.

I’m glad to be part of the Marist Mission Ranong Health Team supporting Burmese migrant workers who are living with HIV/ AIDS.


Ma Su Mon Aung working in the Marist Ranong HIV AIDS project

People who have HIV AIDS easily feel down very often. The hospital where they go to get treatment is a public Hospital and people there speak a different language from them. So they have difficulties asking for information, know the right process and explain the details their sickness.

They are also afraid of some people knowing of their disease.

People with HIV AIDS need care, right medicine, nutrition and counseling.

My job is a translator for them but sometimes I am involved with all of their needs including their family problems.

They need someone to listen to them carefully.

The more I know and learn from these patients the more I understand their lives. When they are in good health and I see them, I feel very pleased.

They are my life teacher as well. I’m now more understanding of the value of what we share with others even if what we share is small or big.