Nikki is from the village of Mah Wah Khee, essentially the birthplace of the KLEO organization. Nikki has lived at Jen’s House for the past six years and will graduate this March, 2016, from San Patong High School. In this first photo Nikki is standing next to me. The picture was taken when I was in Maw Wah Khee meeting with some of the parents who wanted their children to live at Jen’s House and study in Thung Siao. You can see by her infectious smile that she was thrilled at the possibility. Her Thai name is Sudaporn Niyoumpainiwet but we all still call her Nikki.
Nikki, (center) was one of the students who went on the tour to Payup University in February and has been excited about the possibilities that were opened up to her. She would like to study at Payup in hopes of continuing her education in English. A lofty goal for certain. The first step for her was to write the Payup english assessment test, which she has done. To enter into the regular English Program of studies the mark must be at the 450 to 500 level. Nikki’s mark was 371. Nikki is a very independent young woman, she goes for what she wants. Payup has led her to the door. Step two is to study in the Intensive English Program to bring her mark up to 450-500 level, which would put her into the Foundation Studies Program. The first seven weeks of study cost 21,900 Baht, at todays exchange approximately 1,200.00 Cdn. It is costly, by Thai standards, but it is the only way she can continue.
Nikki’s father is a sub-sistent farmer, as are most Karen in Maw Wah Khee but he has an additional responsibility. As the headman of Mah Wah Khee, he must represent his village at the local Thai government level. It’s a position no one wants. It’s not an easy task with the ongoing language barriers and prejudice the Karen people face daily. I have had the pleasure of spending time with him, his family and his people many times over the past 12 years. Pictured here, (on the right), he is cooking supper with my friend Boowa for the family evening meal. He would like to contribute to his daughter’s education but her does not have the means.
As is the tradition in many Karen villages, Nikki’s mother wants her to come home and marry. Karen women have never been exposed to the reality and scope of possibilities that are available to their daughters. An attitude of, “Why does my daughter need more education, it’s time for her to become a mother and wife.”, continues to exist. Nikki has been exposed to those possibilities, embraces them. Possibilities that will make a difference for her and other Karen girl’s future.
Nikki is 19 years old, she desperately wants to continue her studies. If you can help keep Nikki (second left) in school and provide an example for other girls who will follow in her foot steps. Let us know that your donation is to go directly to Nikki’s education by dropping us a note at http://www.kleosupportgroup.org/contact-us/
To donate go to http://www.kleosupportgroup.org/donate/
Thank you, long like river, tall like mountain, (a Karen expression of thanks).