Susanae Crosses the Border to Get to School

Meet Susanae, an Akha student at the Half Day School in Mae Sai. Here she describes her typical school day and some of the things she likes best about attending DEPDC’s Half Day School!

The following is from “The Globe,” a magazine for children to learn about child rights issues around the world as a part of World’s Children’s Prize. Learn more about World’s Children’s Prize here and on their website.

Click the images to enlarge them and click again to zoom in, or scroll to the bottom of this post for a text version the article.

Susanae, page 1Susanae, page 2

Susanae, 12, crosses the border from her homeland, Burma, to Thailand every day. She and other poor Burmese children receive free education at Sompop’s school. This also protects them from human trafficking and child labour.

Child rights radio!

Susanae and her friend Jan Kam are about to broadcast their first radio program on the school radio station: Child Voice Radio! There is a lot to keep track of. “The hardest thing is changing between talking and music, putting the volume of one up while turning the other down!”

Sompop believes that using the media is a good way for children to make their voices heard. That’s why the children learn to make radio and TV programs at school. The TV programs are shown on the school’s YouTube channel. Child Voice Radio is broadcast throughout the border area between Burma and Thailand, in the different languages of the hill tribes, six days a week. The students are the DJs and they decide what to talk about. They make programs about everything from children’s rights to news and music. Susanae already knows what her next program is going to be about.

“We want to talk about things that happen at school, and about health,” says Susanae, who also wants to talk about what life is like for children in her home village.

“If I didn’t attend Sompop’s school I would have to work. In my village, the rights of the child are not really respected. I wish that my parents didn’t work so much, so that we would have time to talk to one another. Sometimes adults are not good at listening to children – they just shout at us instead. Maybe because they’re tired.”

Susanae crosses the border to get to school

5.30 a.m.     Wake up in Burma!

06.00 a.m.     Pedal to Thailand

Susanae cycles towards the border, picking up her schoolmates on the way.

07.00 a.m.     Cross the border

The children used to have to swim across the river to get to school in secret. But now everyone knows about Sompop and his school. The people at the border trust Susanae to come back to Burma in the afternoon.

08.00 a.m.     Cramped but cosy

A rickety old school bus waits near the border for all the children to squeeze in.

08.30 a.m.     Sawadee! Hi!

The day begins with singing in the schoolyard, under the Thai flag.

09.00 a.m.     Language learning

Susanae loves learning new languages like Chinese and English.

11.30 a.m. Lunchtime chat

Susanae tells her big brother Pek what’s happening at home. He is doing Sompop’s leadership training course for young people, and he lives at the school.

Midday Rubber band games

Who can jump the highest? In a game called Yang you push the rubber band down with your feet while it’s being held above waist height!

12.30 p.m.     Clean-up time

Susanae and her school friends are helping to keep the schoolyard nice and tidy.

14.00 p.m.     Cooking lessons

In the afternoon there are practical lessons where the students learn woodwork, sewing, weaving, computing and cooking. Today Susanae is making a delicious banana dessert!

4.00 p.m.     Race against time!

The Burmese children hurry to the border, which closes at six o’clock. Once Susanae arrived too late and had to sleep at school!

5.30 p.m.     Homework!

9.00 p.m.     Good night!

After a long day it’s easy to fall asleep beside her little brother, mother and father.


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