The RNDM Sisters are providing educational programs particularly for young women and children
In the southernmost town in Myanmar, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM) provide education for children and skills training for young women in this poor border town. Kawthaung is a melting pot of different ethnicities, religions and cultures, and is an entry point for migrant workers into Thailand. Children and young people in Kawthaung are vulnerable due to family poverty, which increases their exposure to human traffickers. Lenity Australia are funding the Sisters through Australian Marist Solidarity to ensure that young people can escape this grinding poverty and are safe from predatory behaviour.
With the end of May, 2018 marking the midway point for the 2017-18 school term, The RNDM Sisters are pleased to report that 37 children are undertaking their before and afterschool tuition. Of the 37 children, 25 are preschool and kindergarten, 4 are in grade one, 6 are in grade Two and 7 are in grade three. The tuition program extends beyond the classroom with the Sisters often hosting extended family and friends of the students to run other programs on nutrition, sports and so on.
The three month summer sewing classes are now also in full swing with 29 women enrolled. Throughout the course the Sisters hope to instil a sense of worth, belonging and pride into their students so that when they leave the are confident and able to deliver quality seamstress work, equipping them with the skills to earn a living.
Meet a sewing student
Sandra* is a 33 year old single mother of one and the youngest of 4 sisters in a family of 6. Three years ago Sandra and her 3 sisters went to Thailand in search of work. However, Sandra recently returned from Thailand to take care of her father who had a stroke and could no longer support himself or her mother. In trying to support her mother, father and child, Sandra desired to go back to Thailand in search of better work again but ultimately that was now not possible. Sandra’s sisters were still in Thailand and still struggling to make ends meet in any case.
Sandra began to make enquiries about steady jobs in Kawthaung and was soon connected with the RNDM Sisters. Sandra joined the sewing program in January, 2018 with the goal of tworking in the RNDM workroom to earn enough to support her mother, father and child. The RNDM Sisters were so impressed with Sandra’s quality of work and work ethic during the program that from May they employed her as an apprentice with due payment. Sandra is now able to make ends meet, support her family and work in a safe and respectful environment.