On April 8th Kleo members, volunteers, and others shared a special evening with founder, Coleen Scott and guest, Shar La Lah, a Karen refugee from Mae La Oo camp.

Coleen reviewed Kleo’s past achievements and recent developments at Jen’s House, where a complete new dorm for the boys was built this year. Her personal expression of thanks to the Karen people and the positive ways in which they have enriched her life set the tone for the evening.

“The Karen peoples’ warmth, their empathy and acceptance have certainly been windows of light in my life. They have shared their lives with me and we have grown together finding strength and courage in each other. We have made great strides but there is still a long way to go.”

A review of the changing needs of Karen refugees who have resettled in Ottawa and the educational support for children in remote mountain villages in Thailand was presented.  These on-going projects have built a solid foundation from which the organization is now prepared to venture into new areas. Kleo has now turned to providing support for orphan children living in two refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. During Coleen’s recent trip to Thailand funds were used to build new toilets in Mae La Ma refugee camp and provide the basic necessities of life, food, vitamins, and clothing to fifty children.

Repairs to an existing dorm in Mae Sariang are underway and, rice and hygiene products were offered to the Karen Women’s Organization, a community based organization serving the needs of Karen women overseas.

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The touching rendition of Shar La Lah’s three part story of her life was one of courage, loss, endurance and hope. Shar La and her family survived the horror, oppression and fear of their life in Burma. Burnt from their village they were forced into the jungle to save themselves from ongoing brutality and death. They turned to the relative safety of refugee camps in Thailand and endured more than a decade of the imprisoned hopelessness that is life in the camps. There was no going back and no going forward until an opportunity to resettle in Canada brought her family a chance; hope.

In a final tribute to the support Kleo has offered her family Shar La Lah invited board members to come to the front of the room, where she presented them with an engraved plaque along with a private note to each member.

The words in Shar La Lah’s card to Coleen, which she would like to share, read;

… “Words cannot express our thankfulness. You gave our family hope when we though hope was gone.”…