A long overdue “Hello” to all our friends and supporters from Thailand to Canada, and all in between.    I’m Ingi, KLEO’s “Girl on the Ground” in Chiang Mai.  It’s been a year already since I first met Coleen, my friendly neighbor, and joined her in working side by side with the Karen people.  And it’s about time that I popped my head up to introduce myself and begin to share my experiences, and help to continue spreading the stories and successes of our students and friends.  What an amazing year of growth and learning, and connecting with so many lovely people! I’ll share a few highlights from the year, so you too can share this connection.

Snippets and Scenes from Thailand, 2015

Hello!Maw Wah Khee Village: “Jenny Moe!!” (Jenny’s Mom) This was the endearing cry from the families as Coleen and I walked around the village on my first trip.  She is welcomed like a family member coming home, and I, by association and by the value of Coleen’s earned trust, am too so warmly accepted into their home. I am touched.  A few solar lights dot the night but most houses are dark after the evening meal, save the glow of the cooking fire. We share a meal, stories, updates on the students down at Jen’s House, worries and hopes for the daughters about to begin university or college in the city.  Early to rise just before the sun, I take a dreamy dawn walk around the village, pausing to let pigs and piglets, hens and chicks, ducks and their ducklings pass. Women already sit under the stilted houses weaving away with brightly colored cloth. Maw Wah Khee is one of the few mountain villages that has really preserved it’s traditional culture, but it is threatened.  The students at Jen’s House and in university really are the link between worlds. They have the opportunity to learn the value and means of protecting their culture in a way that also balances with modern life and the villagers’ wishes.  It’s so clear to me now how great a transition it is to go from a village such as this to Jen’s House. The students really have a lot to adapt to, besides being away from their families as a young age.

Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp: “Teacher we are hungry.”

After an English lesson at the girls dorm for unaccompanied minors.

After an English lesson at the girls dorm for unaccompanied minors.

Oh my heart. These were the words from the students in the boys dorm for unaccompanied minors. We had just given about 2 hours of English lessons, because the students were so eager, almost desperate, to learn, and especially with a native English speaker. They all participated so attentively and eagerly in the lesson, but I could see their tired faces and almost cried at these words. “Teacher we are hungry.” They eat one, sometimes two sparse meals a day.  The dorm gets extremely limited rations (I was floored at the reality of people living off of rations.  Rations in 2015!!)

Let me see! The boys check out Coleen's tablet.  They have very little access to technology, computers, and internet

Let me see! The boys check out Coleen’s tablet. They have very little access to technology, computers, and internet

At the time, the rickety bamboo dorm was still waiting for completion of a new roof, kindly donate by Eric from Canada.  They were waiting for the leaves to dry, and hoping it would be ready before the rainy season. Good news is they finished on time! We will focus on food and English resources for them. To donate funds for food or supplies please go here (http://www.kleosupportgroup.org/donate/)



Jen’s House: “This is my family.” Words from Pranee, a Jen’s House graduate who, like the other university students, still comes back often to Jen’s House on free days. The house parents, Tamla and Chai, are so warm and calm.  They run this place so well, and it is truly a home.  I forget to call it a “dormitory” ha-ha!  The students are so well behaved and self-sufficient, hopping to their daily chores and homework with no fuss, and doing their best in their classes. The bags of rice sent down from their village homes are bigger than most of the students; I forget they are so young because they seem so mature.

Past and current Jen’s House students took us to Royal Project gardens during our New Year’s meeting.

Stay tuned for a few more of my favorite snippets from 2015 in Part 2.