Mono is a 12 year old Mae La student in grade 6 who is the daughter of one of the teachers in the village. She isn’t the top of the grades in the class and sometimes gets a little bit distracted, but she is always the most excited about class and is respectful and well behaved.
Mono is a bit different from the average student because she only moved to Mae La this year. She has no family here apart from her mother so she doesn’t have a house here and has to sleep with of the female teachers in a small teachers’ office. Originally she never lived in a hill tribe, she is from a fairly large suburb called Kun Yuam where she lived with her dad, younger brother (9) and younger sister (5) and attended a school of about 1,500 people which had more teachers, funding and resources then Mae La.
Her old school had a Thai English teacher, marching band, sports programs and was five minutes away from her family home. Mono’s parents decided with only two weeks’ notice to move her away from Kun Yuam to live in Mae La, a village of 350 people, four hours away from her home, to live in tight conditions with her mum and attend a school that has only four teachers for seven grades because of one reason. Volunteers.
When her parents heard that we would have a native English speaker in the village for 4 months,
and regularly having other volunteers coming for 1-3 weeks at a time, they immediately pulled her out of her old school and brought her here. The teachers, villagers and especially parents are so appreciative and excited to have volunteers here because learning to speak English is a massive help for the childrens’ futures and opens up a lot of employment opportunities for them.
Mono’s father came to visit the village last week with her brother and sister for a mother’s day ceremony. It was the first time they had seen each other in almost two months and also happened to be the same week we had ten Challenges Abroad volunteers in the village. After her father had seen some classes with the volunteers and how much Mono’s English had improved, he told me that next semester he would definitely move his son here if we were to send as many volunteers again.
It’s common for the villagers to come up to me and apologise that they have nothing to offer the volunteers in return, but they thank the volunteer greatly for giving their children more options then just farming all day seven days a week for the rest of their lives like they did.
I’m so glad the villagers are so happy with the volunteers coming. They are always so excited at the thought of any future groups coming to help the village. It’s also fun for the kids. Halfway through writing this entry Mono’s mum asked if she could have further tutoring in English after school, and tonight we started our first extra lesson.