Good Shepherd Phuket

Good Shepherd Phuket

PHUKET

Shepherd’s Boost

Patricia Boullion et Alexandra Chatenet

7 July 2018

The Good Shepherd Learning Center in Phuket needs your help. It no longer has the necessary resources to continue teaching the children of Burmese immigrants in Phuket. It is for this reason that the Center and Latitudes are calling upon your generosity in order to raise the funds needed to continue operations.

Over 100,000 Burmese migrants live and work in Phuket, most in conditions of extreme poverty. Their children, left to fend for themselves, without access to education or medical care and often becoming victims of human trafficking, are doomed to remain on the margins of society, in either Thailand or Myanmar if they return to their country of origin..

Sister Lakana welcomes these children to her school on Koh Sirey. Over the past 5 years, almost 700 students have attended the Good Shepherd Learning Center in Phuket, where they are taught Thai, Burmese, basic English, Science, and Math.

The children spend their days in a safe environment within which they can learn, play, socialize, and eat a hot, balanced meal every day. Around fifty of them have also been able to enroll in Thailand’s traditional school system.

You have to see the joy and enthusiasm among students of all ages in order to realize the importance and beauty of Sister Lakana’s mission. She is an exceptional woman with seemingly limitless determination, courage, and compassion.

Sister Lakana, how did you find your calling?

I was born in Bangkok but raised in Ayutthaya. My father was Buddhist, but I had an aunt who was Catholic. Since we were free to choose our own religion, I went with my aunt’s. I’ve wanted to help the poor ever since I was young, but at the time, I didn’t know where or how…

How long has the Good Shepherd Learning Center in Phuket been open?

This is its fifth year of operation. At first, we held classes in an abandoned factory next to the one where the students’ parents worked, drying fish. We stayed there for 2 years thanks to the generosity of the property owner, but we eventually had to leave because we were taking on so many students. Destiny led us to this small plot of land where we are currently located, on Koh Sirey. Thanks to the money collected from a number of expats in Phuket, the Michael Matthews Foundation, Good Shepherd Singapore, and Good Shepherd Hong Kong, we were able to complete the center in 2013. Others contribute to our budget as well, such as the French organizations Children of the Mekong and ACASEA (Acting in Cooperation with Southeast Asia).

What did the children do all day before the center was opened?

Many were employed as vendors, but most of them were working in factories.

How old do children have to be to enroll?

We take children between ages 5 and 14. On Saturday mornings, we also teach a group of 15-18-year-olds, who learn how to cut hair, make soap, and so on.

Do you have success stories from former students?

Yes, of course. Among those who were able to transfer to Thai schools, some of them have become interpreters at clinics. Others are employed at big construction sites or have become secretaries… They always come back to see us, which sets an example for the younger students.

Do the students’ parents help pay for their education?

We ask them for 10 Baht per day per child. There are three types of parents: those who pay regularly, those who pay every now and then, and those who can’t pay anything at all.

Do you have any particular projects in mind if you are able to raise the money to keep the center open?

Yes, we would like to lease a small plot of land in front of the center to plant a vegetable garden, grow our own vegetables, and teach the children gardening techniques…

The school runs mainly on the generosity of its donors. Although its expenses are modest, costs remain high.

Here are some figures:
Classroom supplies: 600 Baht per year per student
Uniform (2): 800 Baht per year per student
Lunch (5/week): 10,102 Baht per year per student
Transportation: 115,000 Baht per year for all students
Medical care: 11,500 Baht per month for all students

Remember that those of us in Western countries have probably all benefited naturally from a school system, health care system, and child-friendly environment and that there are children living in our country today for whom this is a luxury, a fantasy. More or less all of us have employed a Burmese migrant in our homes or at our businesses. Their children deserve an education so that they can take over from their parents once they reach adulthood, either here or in Myanmar. Latitudes urges you to participate in the education of these children, whether by donating or volunteering.

The Good Shepherd School
Lakana Sukhsuchit et Jiemjit Tammapichai
Sister Lakana: lakanargs@gmail.com
N°1, Hutchana Village, Soi 2/13,
Anupas Phuketkarn Rd, Talard Yai, Phuket +66 (0)76 252 713
+66 (0)859 086 560
www.goodshepherdphuket.com
www.facebook.com/goodshepherdlearningcenter.phuket
www.michaelmatthewsfoundation.org
www.goodshepherdbangkok.com

Bank Account Number
Kasikornbank Tilok Branch
Numéro de compte : 399-2-88941-0
Swift Code : KASITHBK

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