DEAR Burma

Dear Burma is a school for Burmese immigrants looking to start a new life in Thailand. With constant threat of spies, people looking out for police and a security guard, there to protect them against a new government that works entirely against their efforts, the school requires protection in order to keep it alive and flourishing. Refugees and activists have come together in support of Myint Wai, the school’s director, to bring education to those seeking an independence from the military junta in Myanmar’s never-ending ethnic conflict and civil war. Hidden in plain sight in a kindergarten school, the teachers–all volunteers–give unquestioned energy to a cause Thai authorities do everything they can to shut down, calling it ‘illegal education’.

The constant threat of deportation looms at the gates as Thai police often stop those they believe to be students and ask them to read newspapers in Thai–where upon if they fail they will be asked to present a passport. Without passports, they are sent back to Burma. Many of the students are unable to show up on their one day of learning due to rampant death tolls back home, trouble with the law, 7 day work weeks–few of many realities they face every day while living often without permission in their new country.

Inside the gates are hundreds of migrant workers studying hard on their own accord to learn Thai, English, computers, and other subjects aimed to prepare them for life in Thailand. A $5 per semester token fee is paid by the students to give them a feeling of belonging rather than charity, all of which goes to books and other supplies needed to run the fully-functional facility. With over 10,000 hopeful students taught while operating for 10 years strong, Dear Burma is here to stay.

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