“My name is Joseph. I was born in Myanmar, in Kayah state, Shan Daw Township and Daw Krar Aung village in 1978. We are 11 in the family that includes my parents, 7 brothers, my only sister and myself. I am 43 years old and married with 1 daughter.
I finished primary level (KG -S4) only because there was no middle and high school in our village. We didn’t have enough teaching and learning materials especially textbooks. The teacher just dictated or wrote on the blackboard. We spent most of our time copying information. My parents have not received an education. They don’t know how to plan for the future, so I learned to get on my own.
I was happy living in our village. I did not expect that one day in 1991, the Burmese military would attack our village. We were able to hide in the forest for a month together with other villagers. We always struggled for enough food and clothes. In 1995, I went to Eastern Karenni and stayed in Tha Na Kwei Boarding House to continue my studies to Standard 5.
When I finished, I went back to my village. I worked there to help my parents. However, in 1996, the Shan Daw Township was again attacked by the Burmese military. Our village was burned down, and we fled to the Thailand border for safety. My whole family and I eventually settled in the refugee camp at Ban Mai Nai Soi. My father was old and could not work hard. For a couple of years, I worked outside the camp to help my parents. In 1999, I returned to school in the camp and continued my education to Standard 10. After the term 1 examination, I left school to work and help my family make a living.
I was hired as a primary school subject teacher in 2005-2008. Being a teacher offered many challenges. Most of my friends discouraged me from teaching because the stipend is very little for supporting my family. They encouraged me to work outside the camp, where 2 days’ wages equal a month’s stipend as a teacher. Some parents questioned my credentials as a teacher, for I did not finish my own education. However, both my mother and my wife always encouraged me to help our people and community. That support helped me not to listen to what some people were saying.
I was promoted as deputy head teacher in 2009 and became a Head Teacher in 2020.
My dream is to continue my studies. Currently, I am faced with family constraints and civil war problems. I don’t want to resettle to a third country. I wish that my country was peaceful. I want to return and be a teacher for the rest of my life. I want to help in the development of our country and our people.
The situation in my country is not safe to return. I will continue to realize my dream for our people by teaching with KnED*. My dream, like the KnED vision, is that “Education for the progress of the people”.
I cannot imagine our community without a school that provides quality education for our children and future generations. Without education, there will be no progress. Without progress, there is no hope. I believe that Education is the only thing that cannot be stolen from us. Education will lead us to peace and reconciliation. For this, I now attend teacher trainings. I want to teach well in school and build a more peaceful and better world to live in.
I would like to thank the King of Thailand for allowing us to stay in the refugee camps. My gratitude also to KnED, to JRS, and to the donors who support education in the camp. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to serve my community through education.
This story was originally published by JRS Asia Pacific.
*Karenni Education Department, a JRS partner in Thailand.