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’