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The Sustaining Education for Burmese Refugees project is about overcoming incredible challenges to give children and youth in camps access to education.
Just 3km over the border into Thailand, there are nearly 12,000 Karenni refugees from Myanmar’s Kayah State living in the Ban Mai Nai Soi camp and the Ban Mae Surin camp in Mae Hong Son Province. Most of the residents have fled from armed conflict in Myanmar. Many are born in the camp and the average stay is 22 years. They cannot leave the camp and outside organisations are not allowed to set up schools inside the camp - so access to education is extremely limited. With your support, we are working with our partner organisation, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Asia Pacific, on the Sustaining Education for Burmese Refugees project. It’s focused on sustaining access to quality education by enhancing the capacity of the Karenni Education Department (KnED) to run their schools and formal educational programs in the camps. With your help, we can assist the KnED by supporting the practical needs of school operations, building teacher capacity through training, and improving the curriculum. Youth in the camps are a particularly vulnerable group. Young people often feel so discouraged that they completely disengage with the community. Suicide rates amongst youth are high in the camps. You’re helping JRS Asia Pacific run psychosocial and life skills activities within the camps to build community, hope and resilience for youth who have experienced devastating trauma. The recent ‘Education with a heart’ initiative has been a success – this is where JRS Asia Pacific train KnED staff to teach wellbeing skills such as cultivating positive mindsets, in addition to academic skills.

Children in their classroom at a refugee camp. Jesuit Mission’s partner Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific delivers education, enrichment classes and teacher training to thousands of refugees.

“Many of the youth in the camps consider themselves “outcasts” so it was quite difficult to gain their trust. The project staff had to gradually spend time with them to build good relationships first. Then, we allowed the youth themselves to share what they would like to learn. Since they are the ones who set the main agenda and activities (with supervision of JRS), they felt welcomed and respected which resulted in further engagement with the larger community.”
– Rolando Verzosa, Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific
Thank you for supporting this project to provide education to refugees in camps. While they are restricted to the confines of the camps, children and young people have no other way to learn important knowledge and skills.

De Meh’s Story

De Meh is 15 years old. Her parents fled their home in Kayah State after the armies attacked their village. De Meh was born in the refugee camp in Mae Hong Son and has lived her whole life there. De Meh has been a dedicated student in the camp’s school and was recently chosen to be the school leader along with another student. As a school leader, she has been able to participate in the leadership skills training activities that Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific provide for the teachers. One of these training sessions has been ‘Education with a Heart.’ This training focused on providing knowledge and confidence required to lead students in areas like problem solving, helping others, self-discipline and positive relationships.
“I am grateful with the education I received from KnEd with the support of JRS. Personally, they have helped me to realise the importance of education - not only the knowledge and skills but also the attitude and values. I want to become a teacher in the future because I believe that education is very important. If we know how to read information, we become aware of what is going on in our environment. If we cannot read, we are like blind people. Having education, I can do something and participate in the community activities.”
- De Meh

‘Education with a Heart’ training with the teachers and school leaders in the refugee camp.