September 2009 Archives
By Ms. Wakako MATSUMOTO (Minamata Church, Fukuoka Diocese)
Ms. Wakako Matsumoto who has been working in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2007 wrote to us about what she had learned in the activities and the relation with Karen and Lahu tribes.
<Bwe K Ler Primary School>
Bwe K Ler Primary School is situated in the suburb of Mae Sot. It is a school for immigrants' children and I have visited there a few times since last year. Mainly Burmese Karen children study in this school. They stay in the neighbor villages or dormitory. Most of those in the dormitory are orphans. Their parents were killed by the Burmese Army or died by mines. In Burma children do not have opportunities to receive the education and in many cases their parents entrust their children to their acquaintances who leave for Mae Sot. According to the teachers in the school, as the orphans have the high risk to be caught and become child soldiers, the school admits orphans positively. Now hundred and ten boarders and hundred day pupils study in the school. But seventy children who want to study but have no access to the school are waiting for the chance. People in Japan are raising fund to buy the school bus. Compared to Japan vehicles are rather expensive in Thailand. Even used cars are sold at such prices that we can buy much better car in Japan. School bus will be used by children. Japanese supporters choose the bus very carefully considering the safety and cost.
At first I said "There is a school which needs a school bus." to Japanese couple who were supporting children's' education in northern Thailand for long time and used to visit Chiang Mai. Then the couple asked their friends to raise fund for it.
Every time when I visit the school I mention about the situation of the bus being arranged in Japan. Whenever I contact the school they ask me anticipating, "Is the bus coming? Is it coming tomorrow? The day after? Next week?" I always answer, "They are now raising fund in Japan."
When I visit school I always find new problems. The director of the school who is the former principal is busy solving the problems.
By Ms. Satoko Watanabe (Yamato Church, Yokohama Diocese)
The staff tells me that I say "Thank you" too often. In Japan it is common sense to say "Thank you" even for small favor.
According to the local staff it is a nuisance to hear "Thank you" every time. In fact they do not say "Thank you" when someone gives them cigarettes of does something for them.
They say, "It is understood without saying 'Thank you'. If you say 'Thank you' for a cigarette, it means that you won't ask for a cigarette again." I learned such meaning for the first time.
"Others do you a favor because they want to do and not because they were asked to do so. Therefore, you don't have to say 'Thank you'." I do not quite agree it. I think that "Thank you" is a necessary word to express the gratitude to others. There is no word which means "Thank you" in Tetum (the official language of East Timor) and Fatalog (the local language of the area where AFMET operates projects). They use Portuguese "Obrigodo". The culture without "Thank you"?
I asked them how they express their gratitude. One of the staffs told me, "We do have gratitude. For example, when we go to other's house to take dinner, we say to the person who prepared the dinner, 'You must have worked hard to cook the foods for us.' Then the person says, 'Not at all.'" These words are equivalent to "Thank you" and "You are welcome." There is no word meaning "Thank you" but they express their gratitude by their own sentence.
Japanese "Otsukaresamadeshita (Thank you for your hard work") is a convenient and kind word. When the staffs come back from the activities outside, I want to say "Otsukaresamadeshita" but there is no English or Tetum word which has same meaning, so I say "Obrigado". As I wanted to express more than what "Obrigado" means, I said "Otsukaresamadeshita" to the staffs. They asked me what it meant. I answered, "Something like 'Thank you for your work'. In other words 'You must have got tiered'. It is the word to express the appreciation of pains others have taken." They said "It is a good word!" These days they sometimes say "Otsukaresamadeshita" to me and we feel at ease.
By Ms. Mari HAMADA (Matsaubara Church, Tokyo Archdiocese)
I had completed six months' language course and started the activity "Cambodia Women's Shelter Project" run by NPO Renacir on 13th July. I left Phnom Penh and now working at the women's shelter in Siam Reap where Angkor Wat is located. It is the shelter for the victims of DV, sex trade, sexual abuse and rape and those with no place to live during maternity and for other reasons. I wanted to join the project as I wished to get involved with them as a same gender and stay with them. I have not only to spend time with them but also to listen to them in our daily life so that I can support their potential to become independent and live by themselves.
As the shelter is their temporal residence and the place to live humanly, privacy must be protected. I think I will share with you what I was aware from them and the events I shared with them.
I had been working at the shelter in Phnom Penh before I came to Siam Reap. There were many residents over there and most of them were with children. It was very bustling everyday. There are collaborations with other organizations and the residents can take vocational training of dressmaking and cooking with their children during their stay for maximum of six months. Some of those who have learned successfully can get employment but it is not easy for them to acquire the complete skill within six months. Despite of it they go for the training everyday except Sundays for their future.