Hungry for Education
Returning to teach in the school where she received Mary’s Meals as a refugee from Myanmar, Sandar reflects on the significance that a daily meal in her place of learning had on her life.
During this unprecedented global hunger crisis, with resources scarce, work difficult to find and prices soaring, it is more important than ever that we not only reach as many hungry children as possible but also inspire them to go on to support their own communities in whatever ways possible.
The significance of a freshly cooked plate of food from Mary’s Meals has remained a warm, comforting memory for Sandar. A former pupil turned volunteer teacher at Fr Martin school in Ban Tha Rua, Sandar understands the importance of having a meal at school and – as the daughter of a refugee family from Myanmar – the difference it can make to vulnerable children trying to gain an education.
Growing up, money was tight, food was scarce and opportunities to prosper were rare. For Sandar, school was an opportunity to better herself and overcome the poverty she experienced as a child. She learned Thai, English, mathematics and arts subjects. This led to her become a skilled interpreter of Thai-Myanmar, which now provides her with a livelihood.
Sandar has had an attachment to Fr Martin School since her own school days and recently agreed to volunteer. She admits her return to the classroom took her by surprise: “After my former teacher at Fr. Martin school called me for voluntary assistance, I felt like I couldn’t help because I have my own aims and focus on life, but then the respect I have drew me back to my school. That’s how I started teaching the children. It wasn’t easy at first but later, Godreminded me of my childhood which made me want to help these children who are hungry for education, just like I was.”
Sandar knows that – especially at times of extreme food insecurity such as we are witnessing today – children cannot learn and thrive without sustenance. She appreciates that food changed her story and it can change the stories of those hungry and vulnerable children now enrolled at Fr Martin school.
The most poignant reason for her return was that she wanted to set an example for her students on how she overcame difficult obstacles in her life. She was also keen to provide counselling sessions to those pupils who may need someone to talk to in difficult times. Human trafficking is a significant problem in Thailand. Many cases are not pursued or investigated, and families can end up in bad situations as a result. Ban Tha Rua has experienced cases of human trafficking and Sandar hopes she can improve things for the children involved by supporting them appropriately.
Sandar reflects: “I am proud to be a teacher at my school. When I left Fr Martin school, I had so many memories left behind that I couldn’t forget. I left school to generate income for my family which I achieved. I learned handicraft work and started working in a factory as an interpreter. It has gone well because of the language, maths and academic skills I learned at school.”
Sandar aims to open her own handicraft shop in the future and to become a baker.
Please help give children the chance to grow into adulthood with the tools they need to pursue their dreams, like Sandar did. The immediate nourishment that a daily meal brings is only part of the story – it can also create a legacy of education for generations to come.