We drove to the border of Thailand and Burma this morning. It is much more open than it used to be but there are still people crossing illegally by boats. Burmese who do not have visas come over and try to sell cigarettes, whiskey and Viagra to the Westerners. We saw a lot of rubbish along the river but were truly astounded to see people dumping the rubbish in the river and then a little further down they were washing their clothes in the same river.
After lunch ( at Canadian Dave's...a Canadian who is married to a Thai and now lives here) we went to the special education school run by World Education where Big is the manager, music teacher and "bus driver". We sang and danced with the children until it was time to take them home. Big loads them (12) in and away we went. It took us over two hours to take all the children home. What a heartbreaking trip to see where these children live. No one lives on a paved road and one was even at the back of the "cow field" full of stables of cows. One we left on his front "porch" as Mum wasn't home..he is unable to walk but moves around quiet well but before he went to the special school he had to be carried around. Another one who is HIV positive so takes medication each day at school. There are so many children that they have one group Mon and Thurs, another Tues and Fri with the more advanced ones coming again on Wed.
About five years ago, Andrew and Wendy joined Volunteers Services Overseas and came back to Mae Sot. Through their connections from years of traveling to Mae Sot, they spoke to the Assistant Director of World Education and discussed options available for Special Education children as in all their visits to school they had not seen any SE children. After lots of discussion and visits to the communities to see what the need was, World Education agreed the need was there and that their old offices could be used as a school. Wendy then worked for WE developing the curriculum for the school. Thus Star Flower was started and the school was opened over three years ago. Because Westerners had shown interest in children with disabilities, the profile of the children was higher and referrals were being made to the school, thus the need for two groupings. Before this time children with special needs were hidden in the community and the parents were shunned too.
These children are refugees from Burma,living in horrible conditions but happier knowing they are safe from fighting and destruction of the villages in the Karen area of Burma.
And in all the ugliness there is the beauty of a sunset.