The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has sent US$25,000 in emergency financial assistance to a school in the Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand to assist in the school's reconstruction after it was destroyed by fire on April 28.
The Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College, located in the Mae La Refugee Camp near the Thai-Myanmar border, faces uncertainty as to the start of the next term, which was set to begin in June. The school offers general education to refugees and training to church leaders. More than 300 students are enrolled.
BWA, through Baptist World Aid, its relief and development arm, is providing 50 percent of the estimated reconstruction cost of US$50,000. Additional funds of at least US$10,000 are needed for furnishing, equipment and school supplies.
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam assured Baptist leaders in the refugee camp that "all of your friends in the Baptist World Alliance will stand by your side as you... proceed with the work to renew the structures for life, training and service at Mae La."
Representatives of the BWA have visited the Mae La camp several times, the most recent in June 2011 with a delegation that included BWA President John Upton and Women's Department Director Patsy Davis. Upton said that despite the dedication and strength he saw in the camp, the eyes of the refugees, particularly those of youth and children, betrayed loss and sadness. He said what worries refugees the most is that they will be forgotten, and he appealed to Baptist leaders around the world not to forget the refugees, a significant number of whom are Baptists.
Mae La houses an estimated 50,000 displaced persons and is one of the largest of several refugee camps for displaced persons from Myanmar who fled conflicts in the South Asian country.
The Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College was founded by Saw Simon, the recipient of the BWA Human Rights Award in 2000. Simon and his family fled across the Thai border after the school, which was originally located in Rangoon (Yangon), the former capital of Myanmar, was destroyed. He later restarted it at the Mae La camp in 1984.
Video footage of the fire can viewed on the BWA website.
Contributions to the reconstruction effort may be made via the BWA website or mailed to:
Baptist World Aid
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
© Baptist World Alliance
May 25, 2012