From Nancy With Love

Swah dee caw! (Thai for Hi!)

I left Chiang Mai yesterday (along with my hubbie Lorne) after a wonderful visit with Coleen.

You know, we do such good work with all our KLEO activities in Ottawa and when I see the fruits of all our efforts, I am blown away! These young Karen people whom we support are giving their all to make the most of the opportunities we provide. They work extremely hard to do their very best at school, they sparkle with sweetness and they are very grateful, having thanked me many times for helping them. It was an absolute joy to meet them.

Coleen first arranged a dinner in Chiang Mai where me met some university students along with Ingi, a wonderful volunteer who is tutoring students in English. At first the Karen young ladies were very shy but so happy to see us. As the evening unfolded, they began to speak more English and eat less modestly! They made sure the leftovers were taken back for their roommate.

The following day we journeyed by tuk tuk, bus and […]

By |February 11th, 2016||

Jen’s House 7th Anniversary Celebration

Full Circle

Seven years of Jen’s House has been the journey of a lifetime. I felt so privileged to be with my Karen family and share in the success that we, collectively have created! If I could have one wish for 2016 it would be that everyone, who has been a part of this adventure, could have been with us to share in the warmth, laughter, and love at this celebration! Where to begin?

Ingi and I arrived at Jen’s House early on December 26th to join the truckload of students who were heading up the morning of the celebration. It seemed odd not to have gone up ahead of time with Tamla. We usually head to her place together, little did I know there was a reason for the change. It was a quicker than normal songtao ride from Chiangmai out to Thung Siao. The truck for Nong Tao was ready and waiting when we walked through Jen’s House gates.

Five minutes into the ride the festivities began. Ingi and I had jumped into the box of the truck with some […]

By |January 8th, 2016||

Lanna International School – Community Service Class of 2015

Lanna International School’s, Community Service Learning Class, kicked off their food drive/fundraising campaign for KLEO this past Saturday. A week ago Ingi and I were invited to meet with this socially conscious group of students and speak about KLEO’s work. The class has decided to try to raise funds and food for our Karen students. It wasn’t long before they had organized themselves into four groups and a brainstorming session ensued. The first of a long list of ideas that the students put together was to participate in the school’s garage sale.
The following Saturday Ingi and I decided to drop in and give them our support on the day of the sale. By the time we arrived at 8:15 the garage sale was in full swing.
I’d asked Tamla to choose three student representatives from Jen’s House to come out and be a part of the experience. They were waiting for us when we arrived. The garage sale and being at an International School would be a new experience for our three students. They were very excited as the […]

By |December 14th, 2015||

Ingi and Life in the City.

After settling in Chiang Mai it was time to catch up with our 1st year post-secondary students. I decided I would like to see them in their own space, partly to make sure the standard of the room was OK and partly out of curiousity. It was a Friday night when Ingi and I made our way to visit four of the seven girls who live in the same neighbourhood.

Although we have a little difficulty finding the address, we finally connect up in the street, near their residence which results in laughter, big hugs and hellos. Ingi and I follow Som Rudee and Natjannan to their room first. Suchada who lives in a different area is in the room when we arrive, more hugs and hellos.  It is a great surprise as we thought she would be unable to join us. All seven of us squeeze into the tiny room for a big reunion.

During our catch-up chats I ask everyone if they like living in the city. The response is a chorus of no’s, but they are quick […]

By |December 5th, 2015||

A Good Day – Part One


Saturday September 26 came with an early start, it was going to be a busy day. The second week-end of our annual Kleo book-sale at the Royal Canadian Legion,Westboro Branch  was today. Although we had loaded the books from our donated storage locker at Dymon Storage, into our vehicles the night before, the unloading, set up, and preparations would take a few hours.

This year we were also setting up a table in Winston Square just beside the Legion and we would need to have someone man that station for the day.  We had changed the day of the sale from our usual Sunday to Saturday in hopes that we could catch the sidewalk traffic of people going to the Westboro Farmers Market. Volunteer extraordinaire Mindy offered to be the girl on the street. Always steadfast to the volunteer roles she takes on, you can count on Mindy to be the first to step up to the plate as needs are identified. The weather gods were with us and presented a beautiful sunny fall day, I felt positive about […]

By |December 2nd, 2015||

Jen’s House – November 2015

It was a hot, crowded one hour songtao (Thai version of a local bus) ride to Jen’s House today. I was glad to finally arrive at my stop and make the short walk down the lane into the cool shade of the trees on the property. As I walked towards the door the only sound coming from inside was the clicking of weaving sticks. It was too early for the twenty students that live at Jen’s House to be home from school. Tamla and her sister smiled as I entered and Tamla unhitched herself from her back-strap loom, and set her weaving aside to greet me.

After my initial meeting with the students a few day ago I was back to start building fledgling relationships with the new students and reestablish my connection with those who I’ve know for a while. I would also be assessing how I could best help the students with their English studies. During my first visit I’d gone over the current standing of the students and reinforced the 3.0 GPA expectation at Jen’s House. […]

By |November 30th, 2015||

Saa Mer Ree & Hay Moo

These two young ladies have re-settled in Ottawa from refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. Their parents fled Burma due to civil war. They have come through horrors that we can’t even imagine.
I am in awe of their courage and that of their children who are making the transition to becoming proud Karen Canadians.
Hay Moo and Saa Mer Re joined me in a presentation about the Karen people and the work KLEO Support Group is doing. I am so proud of them. 
Here is what Saa Mer Ree shared with the audience.
“I’m from Mae La Oo. Before I came here I was in Grade 4. I remember waking up every morning at 4 am during exam month because my father wanted me to study, I was only seven years old. My brain wasn’t ready to study so hard. Sometimes I pretended to be sick but my father always made me get up.
At school in Canada I was surprised by the way the teachers are, they are pleasing to the students. Back in camp the teachers would hit you. That’s […]

By |September 14th, 2015||

Awards Presented to KLEO by The Karen Community of Ottawa

KLEO Support Group received two awards from the Karen Community in Ottawa. I am happy to share them with all of you who make our work possible. I write this note of appreciation to the OKYC, The Karen Community of Ottawa and the Ottawa Karen Baptist Church. Thank you for your recognition of Kleo’s efforts to support Karen people in Ottawa. The Karen peoples gesture and acceptance of our work makes tells me we are working well together. It reassures me that we are finding the right way to support their dreams and goals. I look forward to many more years of learning and understanding through the Karen peoples generous spirit of inclusiveness.

The dedication on the first award reads;

“As Karen Community and Church of Ottawa, it is our privilege and honour to present this certificate to Karen Learning and Education Opportunity Group. Since 2006 KLEO has been guiding and assisting our Karen families with their integration to the Canadian society and the area of children education development, more than that, KLEO has assisted Karen youth who attend […]

By |September 12th, 2015||

Attitudes and Answers

Ban Rai Dorm, Mae Hong Song Province – December, 2014

There are currently sixteen students living at the Ban Rai Dorm ranging in age from fifteen to nineteen years. The purpose of my 2014-2015 first visit was to connect with the students, open a dialogue about their lives over the past year and meet the new dorm-parents. Kolohtoo’s, (Ban Rai’s Administrator) sister, Hser Poe was very direct in her evaluation of her first year working as housemother and the challenges over the past eight months. Although we have just met I believe we are off to a strong start in building a long-term relationship towards our goal of providing improved educational opportunities for the students who will call Ban Rai home. A home that offers a nurturing attitude along with the privileges, responsibilities, and expectations that come with it. I’ve enjoyed her straightforward attitude.

The students living at Ban Rai Dorm have had very little supervision over the past three years. The pastor who was in charge of their care did not have time to adequately supervise the students […]

By |January 18th, 2015||

Visiting Pha Chor

After settling in Chiang Mai it was finally time to head to Jen’s House.  As I made my way out to Thung Siao on the songtaow (local transport) it was as if I had never left. I barely noticed as we passed by the many familiar landmarks that I used to take note of for fear I would miss my stop.  It was more of a challenge to cross the six lane highway to get to the lane for the short walk to Jen’s.

When I left in March the boy’s dorm was just finished and the clean-up not quite complete. As I turned the corner and went through the gate I felt like I was walking into a long established home.  The plants that framed the main house and the boy’s dorm were lush and green after the rainy season. Freshly washed laundry was hanging in a new separate area, out of view from the front doorways.  The motor bikes had found a new home in between the covered area of the two buildings.  Everything was fresh and […]

By |November 23rd, 2014||