Ranong 2019 Overview

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During the 2018 - 2019 summer holidays, eight students and two of our teachers went on a two week school trip to visit the Marist mission in Ranong, Thailand. The purpose of this trip was to experience what life is like for Burmese migrants, see Marist faith in action and teach English to the students attending the school run by the Marist Asia Foundation.

The Ranong Marist school has very close links with St Patrick’s College because of our financial contribution to the development of the school back in 2012. We also had a connection through our teacher, Mr Atkinson, who had previously lived and worked at the mission. The goal of the school is to provide education for the young Burmese migrants of Ranong. Ranong is one of the main crossing points on the Myanmar - Thailand border. Thailand offers a better life for Burmese and a higher pay. However there is also discrimination against the Burmese, meaning they are often paid unfairly, live in harsh conditions, offered less jobs and are forced into dangerous industries such as fishing or working in charcoal factories.

The 8 students from St Patrick’s College went to teach English to the Burmese migrants and to the Thai. Both the Burmese English camp and the Thai English camp were two days long. The extra days spent there were mostly used for preparation for the English camps, and also visiting schools, homes and the community. The most important part of the trip was experiencing the living and working conditions, and seeing the difficulty of their lives, compared to us living in New Zealand. This trip really shows how much we undervalue our education and quality of life in New Zealand.

Despite having an amazing weekend in the holiday destination - Ko Phayam Island, the boys all agreed that their highlight of the trip was working and being with the students of the schools, and being in the Ranong community. We are currently thinking of ways to help out the community, and continue our relationship with Ranong.

One way to help out the Marist Asia Foundation is to donate to Marist Asia Foundation It costs only $240 a year for a child to go to school, so a small amount of money can go a long way. If you are interested in volunteering as a teacher or want more information email Fr Frank (Rector of Marist Asia Foundation) at francisbird@gmail.com

Ben Prendergast
Year 13