It was a sunny and wonderful day to see smiles of the primary school students, as they received education kits in a bag that had EU and Finn Church Aid (FCA) logos. In the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Set Yoe Kya and nearby Buddhist camps in Sittwe, in Western Myanmar, smiles are rare for many reasons.
“I am so tired and I have even lost my voice; however, I am so glad for my students receiving the kits. As IDP students, they have to attend classes in a small schools, share small spaces and they don’t have enough facilities with peers”, Than Than Shwe, 47, teacher from Set Yoe Kya school says.
But on the 24th of June, the children were all smiles and looked curiously about what kind of items were inside the enclosed bags, that was were delivered to them by the teachers and staff of Lutheran World Federation (LWF). As the children received their kits, they looked for their family members to come and help carry the heavy kits. Especially 1st grade students’ family members were ready and waiting outside of the school.
Education kit: rubber slippers and a rain coat
Each student received one bag, which includes pencils and erasers, a ruler, a pencil case, a school bag, a lunch box, a water container, a sharpener, rubber slippers, a raincoat and several exercise books, which were funded by the EU Children of Peace Initiative (CoPI).
“The kits are very useful for students, as they include school utensils and other necessary stuff for the primary students. For example, some of the students come to school without slippers. Honestly, they don’t have good slippers to wear during the rainy season as parents cannot afford to buy nice ones. But now, parents don’t need to worry about the slippers”, a student’s mother Khine Khine Nwae, 43, says.
In IDP camps small things also often have large psychological significance.
“I am sure I will see my pupils filled with happiness and satisfaction using the items in the class. They themselves are very proud of owing these kinds of kits. Moreover, these items support IDP students physically and mentally. It will build up their self-esteem and they will be more interested in attending school in order to use all the items”, Than Than Shwe says with a smile.
Students from Grade I-V of Set Yoe Kya No.1 Primary School received 289 kits. Also, those who attended school from nearby, and one of the Buddhist camps of Sittwe Township got another 39 kits. During the academic year, 1345 IDP students have received the CoPI education kit.
“I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books”
Also, it wasn’t an easy job for the teachers to control the parents. Parents were anxious for their children waiting among the queuing students for their teachers to call out their names in order to receive their kits.
“No one will feel unhappy when they have received their kits. I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books and try very hard to be an outstanding student in the class”, Soe Moe Nwae, 6, says.
In the end, some of the children had to carry the heavy items by themselves. In IDP camps, parents don’t always have the time for anything else than to think about livelihood and daily work in the center of the town, as for instance construction site labour, or at the market place, carrying bags, stones, firewood, or work as tri-cycle drivers. But at least today all the children, teachers and parents left with a big smile on their faces.
Text and photos: Mya Yadanar Khine, Communication and Reporting Officer, LWF