Feeding Hungry Minds
Daow, a 16 year old Burmese girl who lives in a small community of laborers in Ratchaburi, almost cannot contain her excitement when she speaks of what has been happening in her community this week.
A group from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) have been setting up a library for the children in the community and it’s just a few more days before they will be done and the library will be open for the first time. When asked whether Daow thought the children in the community would enjoy using the library, she replied excitedly: “They will be there all the time from the day that it opens. You won’t be able to get them to come home.”
Daow is 16, and in many other places in the world she should still be in school. She was born in Thailand to Burmese parents, and was sent home to Burma to a small rural village where she attended school until she was 11 years old. At 12, she was old enough to pass by the authorities as long as she lied about her age, and so her parents brought her back to Thailand to work in a factory. At the age of 12, Daow was arrested and imprisoned for working without a work permit. She was kept in a prison cell for around three months until her parents were able to borrow enough money to pay to have her released.
Having been schooled in Burma, Daow can only read Burmese. She will not be able to read any of the Thai or English books that we will have in the library when it opens, but yet she asks about the progress of the library every day . Daow is determined to practice reading English and Thai and says that if she is unable to read the books at first, she will be happy just to have the opportunity to look at the pictures. “ I like to read any kind of books. I want to gain knowledge to share with the children in the community. I like to read stories and remember them so that I can tell them to children that I meet.” The team of YWAMers who have set up the library are also determined to find some Burmese books for Daow and the many others like her in the community who cannot read Thai or English.
The Rice Seeds Library is a project that the staff of YWAM Ratchaburi have set up alongside the Rice Seeds Child Sponsorship Program that they have already been running for a year, and the Rice Seeds Children’s church that has been running for 2 years. The YWAM teams spend time with the children’s families, trying to encourage the parents to allow their children to stay in school. Most of the children are allowed to begin working on the construction site where their parents work by the age of 12, and so at the end of 6th grade it is usually not seen as necessary for them to keep their children in school, and is often too much of a financial burden to do so.
For someone like Daow, it’s too late for the YWAMers to speak to her family about her continuing on in school, but she has a younger brother and sister who are in the Rice Seeds Child Sponsorship Program, and it looks promising that her parents may allow them to continue on in their studies. It’s never too late however for someone like Daow to continue learning on her own in her free time, and the YWAM Ratchaburi staff hope that with the opening of the library that people like Daow will have a fire stirred in their hearts for more knowledge.
To find out more about the work that YWAM Ratchaburi is doing through Rice Seeds, visit: www.ywamthai.org/ratchaburi/riceseeds