Marists in Ranong - Critical Times

Ranong-Update-FB-1.docx Marist Mission Ranong - Critical Times

Fr Frank Bird sm, Director, writes:  

Our Marist Mission in Ranong, Thailand, has been supporting Burmese Migrant children and families since 2006. In the past few weeks we have had some challenges that remind us just how vulnerable Burmese Migrants are. An order was issued from the Department of Labour in Bangkok to search and scan all 10 Burmese Migrant Learning Centres in Ranong. 32 Burmese Migrant Teachers were arrested and deported.

With the 9 other Migrant Learning Centres, we closed our Preschool and Secondary Education Programmes to protect and keep our Burmese staff safe from the possibility of arrest.

Sadly around 3,000 Burmese children have now been without the opportunity to go to school for the past 2 weeks. Marist Asia Foundation has around 15 staff and 3 International Volunteers helping 75 preschool children and around 100 teenagers get a brighter future with education. 

As we closed our doors, we went visiting homes and sitting with parents and students and listening to their stories. Migrant Parents are struggling not being able to go work as their children cannot go to school. Some children are simply locked inside while parents go to work. Some children wander the streets, are exposed to the dangers of fish factories, child labour, trafficking, prostitution. We face a real crisis.

After 12 years of serving the Burmese Migrant Community we can now see the trust that has been established between migrant families and Marist Asia Foundation. Our Marist Centre has been the recent focal point for a number of important people connected with Advocacy and support of Migrant Education in Ranong. We have hosted the European Ambassador along with Top officials from International Organisation for Migration (IOM). All the Head Teachers of the 10 Migrant learning Centres have come frequently to meetings at the Marist Centre to discuss our challenges together. In the past week the Marist Centre hosted a meeting with the Director of Labour and other NGO's seeking to resolve this education crisis and return the children to school. 

Marist Asia Foundation was invited to speak at a gathering of officials in Bangkok from the United Nations including IOM, Save The Children, Unesco, Unicef, Help Without Frontiers, European Union, Myanmar Embassy staff. They wanted us to give a report on the 'Ranong Raid' as it has become called. Fr Frank highlighted the challenges of Burmese teachers and students, particularly the problem that Migrant Learning Centres are not recognized in law and neither are Burmese Migrants technically allowed to be 'teachers' as it is a special reserved category of work unavailable for Burmese Migrants. Yet Migrant Learning Centres play a vital role in supporting education of the most vulnerable migrant children. There are over 75 Migrant Learning Centres supporting around 17,000 children and being the first chance of finding the estimated 200,000 Burmese migrant children currently not in any education programme. We need to dialogue at the local and national level to support the rights of children for education in a way that works.

As we work shoulder to shoulder with our migrant families, we know that Burmese children need Burmese teachers. We have been greatly blessed with support, talented staff and volunteers, and seen the fruits of education now grow into seeing over 24 graduates of our education programmes as 'teachers' in the community.

As we journey into the next few weeks, we ask for your prayers and support as we continue to dialogue with the government and find a way to get our children back into the classroom. We have seen the transformation literally in front of our eyes; charcoal children transformed with the gift of education to become leaders and teachers in their communities. Please pray that as the Marist Mission works on the edges in Ranong we can accompany our migrant families with Mary's compassion and strength. Education truly is the greatest gift that can be given to a migrant community. Education gives brighter futures. 


Temps difficiles pour les Maristes de Ranong

Migrants et réfugiés
Dimanche 22 Septembre 2019

Le P. Frank Bird sm, Directeur du la Mission mariste de Ranong, nous écrit.

Depuis 2006, notre mission mariste de Ranong, en Thaïlande, apporte son aide à des migrants
originaires de Birmanie, enfants et familles tous ensemble. Ces dernières semaines nous avons dû
faire face à des obstacles qui nous rappellent combien les migrants de Birmanie sont vulnérables.
Le Département du Travail de Bangkok a émis une circulaire ordonnant le contrôle et la
perquisition de chacun des dix Centres de formation de Ranong qui accueillent des migrants de
Birmanie. Trente-deux professeurs birmans ont été arrêtés et expulsés.

Comme les neuf autres Centres de formation accueillant des migrants, nous avons dû fermer notre
cursus préscolaire et notre programme d'éducation secondaire afin de protéger les professeurs
birmans et les mettre à l'abri d'une arrestation possible.

Environ trois mille enfants venus de Birmanie ont malheureusement perdu ainsi, depuis deux
semaines, la possibilité d'aller à l'école. La Fondation Mariste d'Asie compte un effectif d'environ
quinze personnes, plus trois Volontaires internationaux. Ils aident 75 enfants d'âge pré-scolaire et
une centaine d'adolescents à se construire un avenir plus brillant grâce à l'éducation.

Une fois fermées les portes de notre Centre, nous sommes allés faire des visites à domicile,
rencontrant parents et élèves, écoutant ce qu'ils ont à dire. Les parents migrants sont furieux de
ne pas pouvoir aller au travail, du fait que leurs enfants ne vont plus à l'école. Certains les
enferment simplement chez eux pendant qu'ils sont au travail. D'autres enfants traînent dans les
rues, exposés aux recruteurs des poissonneries industrielles qui exploitent le travail des enfants,
aux dangers des trafics, de la prostitution. Nous sommes face à une crise grave.

Après avoir passé douze ans au service de la communauté des émigrés birmans, nous pouvons
maintenant constater la confiance qui s'est établie entre les familles migrantes et la Fondation
Mariste d'Asie. Le Centre mariste est ainsi devenu le point de convergence d'un certain nombre de
personnalités engagées dans le plaidoyer pour l'éducation des migrants, qui s'efforcent, à Ranong,
de leur apporter de l'aide. Nous avons accueilli un Ambassadeur européen en même temps que de
hauts responsables de l'Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations (International
Organisation for Migration, IOM). Les Directeurs des dix Centres de formation pour migrants nous
rejoignent tous pour participer à de fréquentes réunions, destinées à discuter ensemble des défis
auxquels nous sommes affrontés. La semaine dernière, une réunion s'est tenue au Centre mariste,
en présence du Directeur du Travail, avec d'autres Organisations Non-Gouvernementales (ONG)
résolues à trouver une solution à cette crise du système éducatif et à permettre aux enfants de
retourner à l'école.

La Fondation Mariste d'Asie a été invitée à prendre la parole lors d'une réunion de hauts
responsables à Bangkok, parmi lesquels des représentants des Nations Unies, y compris l'IOM.
L'organisation « Save The Children » (Sauver les enfants »), l'Unesco, l'Unicef, Aide sans Frontières,
l'Union Européenne ont aussi pris part à cette rencontre, ainsi que des membres du personnel de
l'Ambassade du Myanmar. Ces personnalités nous ont demandé de présenter un rapport sur ce
que l'on en est venu à appeler le « raid sur Ranong ». Le P. Frank a mis en évidence les contraintes
auxquelles sont soumis les enseignants birmans comme les élèves. Elles tiennent au fait que les
Centres de formation pour migrants ne jouissent d'aucune reconnaissance légale. Une autre
difficulté est que les émigrés de Birmanie ne peuvent pas, techniquement, être autorisés à se dire
« professeurs », parce que c'est un type d'emploi réservé auquel les migrants de Birmanie ne
peuvent accéder. Cependant les Centres de formation pour migrants ont un rôle vital à jouer pour
permettre l'accès à l'éducation des plus vulnérable parmi les enfants migrants. Il y a plus de 75
Centres de formation pour migrants, qui regroupent 17 000 enfants. Ils sont la chance principale
pour entrer en contact avec les quelque 200 000 enfants migrants d'origine birmane qui, selon les
estimations, restent actuellement en dehors de tout programme éducatif. Un dialogue est
nécessaire au niveau local comme au niveau national pour faire respecter d'une manière effective
le droit de ces enfants à l'éducation.

Comme nous travaillons en lien étroit avec les familles migrantes, nous savons que des enfants
birmans ont besoin d'enseignants birmans. Nous avons été grandement comblés par les soutiens
que nous avons reçus, par un personnel enseignant de qualité et des volontaires de talent. Nous
avons reconnu comme fruit de cette éducation le fait que plus de 24 diplômés de nos programmes
sont devenus « enseignants » dans leur communauté.

Naviguant à vue dans les quelques semaines qui viennent, nous vous demandons prière et
soutien, pendant que nous continuons le dialogue avec le gouvernement pour trouver les moyens
de faire retourner nos enfants dans leurs salles de classe. Nous avons constaté la transformation
qui s'effectue directement sous nos yeux; des enfants au charbon qui se transforment, par le don
de l'éducation, en leaders et en enseignants pour leurs communautés. De grâce, priez pour que,
en même temps que la Mission mariste à Ranong travaille jusque dans les marges, nous puissions
accompagner les familles migrantes avec la compassion et la force de Marie. L'éducation est
vraiment le plus grand don qui puisse être offert à une communauté de migrants. L'éducation
permet un avenir plus beau.

P. Frank Bird sm

The Bugey in Brazil
Beginning at home -- caring for our planet
 

Comments 11

Fr Jim Carty on Monday, 23 September 2019 07:02

Frank, I read with with deep concern and profound admiration of the latest developments in Ranong and beyond. Deep concern for the unconscionable crack-down by the Thai authorities on the provision of education for the children of migrant Burmese parents who are cynically permitted to work, often exploited, in the relentless grind of demanding and dirty work- the first photo says it all- charcoal smeared faces of both parent and children. And profound admiration for the tireless commitment of all those involved in the Marist Mission and for the obvious gratitude of those in your care as is evident in the second, third and fourth photos. From a distance, my prayers and support. Frank, an email to follow.

Frank, I read with with deep concern and profound admiration of the latest developments in Ranong and beyond. Deep concern for the unconscionable crack-down by the Thai authorities on the provision of education for the children of migrant Burmese parents who are cynically permitted to work, often exploited, in the relentless grind of demanding and dirty work- the first photo says it all- charcoal smeared faces of both parent and children. And profound admiration for the tireless commitment of all those involved in the Marist Mission and for the obvious gratitude of those in your care as is evident in the second, third and fourth photos. From a distance, my prayers and support. Frank, an email to follow.
Guest - Fr. Bill Rowland, SM on Monday, 23 September 2019 12:59

Hello Frank,

I am saddened to read how the government is hindering your efforts to provide education along with food and a safe place to study for the Burmese children. I will bring your situation to the attention of our students, faculty, and administration here at Marist School in Atlanta. Of course, you will have our prayers and concern. If there are some other ways we can be helpful, please let me know. Fr. Bill Rowland, SM

Hello Frank, I am saddened to read how the government is hindering your efforts to provide education along with food and a safe place to study for the Burmese children. I will bring your situation to the attention of our students, faculty, and administration here at Marist School in Atlanta. Of course, you will have our prayers and concern. If there are some other ways we can be helpful, please let me know. Fr. Bill Rowland, SM
Guest - Paul F Frechette on Monday, 23 September 2019 13:13

Frank, I recall your presentation to us in Atlanta 2 years ago for Marists Educators Conference for North America. And now to hear your report here on the crackdown by the Thaiiland Government is heartbreaking. Thank you for your updates and all the good the Marist Center is doing! Mutual prayers, Paul SM

Frank, I recall your presentation to us in Atlanta 2 years ago for Marists Educators Conference for North America. And now to hear your report here on the crackdown by the Thaiiland Government is heartbreaking. Thank you for your updates and all the good the Marist Center is doing! Mutual prayers, Paul SM
Guest - Kevin Stewart on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 08:03

Frank, sorry to hear of the negative impact on families who already have so much suffering and disadvantage - keep in mind that education to break the cycle of poverty is a marathon, not a sprint. The competence and enthusiasm of your wonderful team plus the inspirational energy of your students will come up a winner. Prayers for a successful outcome of your negotiations. Kev Stewart SM

Frank, sorry to hear of the negative impact on families who already have so much suffering and disadvantage - keep in mind that education to break the cycle of poverty is a marathon, not a sprint. The competence and enthusiasm of your wonderful team plus the inspirational energy of your students will come up a winner. Prayers for a successful outcome of your negotiations. Kev Stewart SM
Guest - Bruce Goodman on Wednesday, 25 September 2019 07:15

Frank - remembering you and the mission in prayers. Kia kaha!

Frank - remembering you and the mission in prayers. Kia kaha!
Guest - John O'Gara on Friday, 27 September 2019 14:09

Frank really sadened to read this. I'll make sure Misean Cara are informed & try to get the Health project funding details sorted.
Warm regards and promise of prayerful support from Donore Community.
John O'Gara

Frank really sadened to read this. I'll make sure Misean Cara are informed & try to get the Health project funding details sorted. Warm regards and promise of prayerful support from Donore Community. John O'Gara
Guest - Kevin Bates sm on Saturday, 28 September 2019 00:01

Frank, all good wishes and the support of my prayers for you and your brave team there in Ranong I'm sorry to read of the crack-down and hope their zeal for power slackens off and soon. You are a light for the whole Society and may these difficult times enable your light to shine even brighter.

Frank, all good wishes and the support of my prayers for you and your brave team there in Ranong I'm sorry to read of the crack-down and hope their zeal for power slackens off and soon. You are a light for the whole Society and may these difficult times enable your light to shine even brighter.
Guest - LUCELIA DERKACZ on Saturday, 28 September 2019 00:15

We in Brazil are very sad about what has happened in Thailand. We are in prayer.

We in Brazil are very sad about what has happened in Thailand. We are in prayer.
Guest - Maya Cranitch on Saturday, 28 September 2019 03:12

So sorry to hear of these developments which must result in fear and heart ache for the whole community. I know how hard you have all worked to build and support educational opportunities for the Burmese migrant community. My thoughts are with you Frank and the Marist community as you navigate through this awful situation. Maya

So sorry to hear of these developments which must result in fear and heart ache for the whole community. I know how hard you have all worked to build and support educational opportunities for the Burmese migrant community. My thoughts are with you Frank and the Marist community as you navigate through this awful situation. Maya
Guest - Michael Coveny on Saturday, 28 September 2019 17:30

Fr. Frank: As Fr. Bill mentioned in earlier comment, we at Marist School will continue our prayers. Thanks to the generosity of our theology teachers here, you know that I shared your great message and the work (and now crisis) at the Ranong mission with all Theology classes here at Marist School/Atlanta last Tuesday, 9/24. Thank you for your thoughtful video for that. I hope this awareness and our prayers will support your work and way. God bless

Fr. Frank: As Fr. Bill mentioned in earlier comment, we at Marist School will continue our prayers. Thanks to the generosity of our theology teachers here, you know that I shared your great message and the work (and now crisis) at the Ranong mission with all Theology classes here at Marist School/Atlanta last Tuesday, 9/24. Thank you for your thoughtful video for that. I hope this awareness and our prayers will support your work and way. God bless
Guest - J. Bernard Jolly sm on Wednesday, 02 October 2019 14:28

The Marist team in Ranong is a particularly significant exemple of a Marist committment with the working people and the migrants. I was glad of knowing of you and of your initiatives, and I'm sad, understanding that Migrants in Asia too are unwelcome and face rude conditions. Indeed I'll pray for and with you. I'm translating your message in French for the Marist European blog of solidarity. "Courage!", as our founder said

The Marist team in Ranong is a particularly significant exemple of a Marist committment with the working people and the migrants. I was glad of knowing of you and of your initiatives, and I'm sad, understanding that Migrants in Asia too are unwelcome and face rude conditions. Indeed I'll pray for and with you. I'm translating your message in French for the Marist European blog of solidarity. "Courage!", as our founder said
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Sunday, 20 October 2019