Sponsorship of Laotian Migrant Children's Education
Have you ever wondered where the green, green grass on golf courses comes from? In Thailand, a lot of it is grown in Pathum Thani district, using the labor of migrant Laotian workers who earn a pittance and live with their families in tiny makeshift huts on the edge of vast fields in the grasslands of Lamlukka. For years, their children were completely off the radar of the educational system, as the families lacked the funds and know-how to register them for Thai schools, pay for school uniforms, supplies and so on. An order of religious sisters (Sisters of Mercy) began to assist these poorest of the poor by initially providing meals and some learning activities for the children while their parents were out working the fields.
In 2010, Sumalee was looking for a charity to support in memory of her own parents, and found one through Eva Marshall, an old friend of Grandmother's, who hooked her up with the Sisters of Mercy.
Here is what Sister Karuna, who headed the project at the time, wrote to me when I contacted her about continuing the sponsorship after Mom's death:
"As a lover of humanity and especially of children, Sumalee agreed that Laotian children should be enrolled in regular Thai schools, as a way of long-term human development in keeping with the Rights of Children to education. She was deeply delighted that 59 Laotian children enjoyed the right to education for a better quality of life in the future. The miracle of love to the marginalized could only happen because of the generosity of Khun Sumalee. For the Laotian families Khun Sumalee is a mother to them, who gave them and their children the hope and opportunity for a better tomorrow. Through Khun Sumalee, the Laotian migrant workers had experienced the goodness of the Thai People. Khun Sumalee was deeply touched and delighted at the thoughtfulness of the Laotian migrant workers who sent her simple gifts to express their appreciation to her as a person and mother to them. Khun Sumalee was humbled with this gesture and had wished to visit them again, but it was a desire that was fulfilled in spirit, for we lost her here on earth but gain a beautiful soul in heaven."
The Year of Giving Generously has set aside funds to ensure that Sumalee's sponsorship of the Laotian children can continue for at least ten years. Given the itinerant nature of their work, and possible changes in legislation, it could be that in the future, these monies will go to help the Laotian migrants in ways other than providing for their children's schooling. If this is the case, the Sisters will consult with me on where the money can be used most effectively.