Meet Our Students (28): Dah’s Story

I still remember the moment when the whole villagers had to flee the village, run into the forest to survive. It was very cold in the forest during the night and I was terribly scared.
I have health issues which often keep me from going to school. Regardless of these hardships, my parents didn’t want me to give up on studying. They were looking for a way to provide me with a chance to continue studying without being interrupted by my health or financial issues. I want to be a doctor in the future. If I became a doctor, I want to go back to my community and serve as a trainer for the new generation. I think health workers are really needed in my village since there is no hospital or clinic there.

My name is Dah[1]. I was born in 2002 in a small village in Karen state[2], Burma where armed conflicts often arose between ethnic arm group and Burma Army. I still remember the moment when the whole villagers had to flee the village, run into the forest to survive 10 years ago. We did not dare make a nose or make a fire because we were afraid of getting caught by the Burma Army. It was very cold in the forest during the night and I was terribly scared.

I have 6 siblings; of them, I am the second daughter. Currently, three of my siblings attend school: two sisters and one brother are studying in Burma and two younger sisters are no school-aged yet. My older brother quit school after grade 7 due to his health issues. My parents are still living in the village and they are subsistence farmers.

I am living in the Ga Yu Nar boarding house in Thailand. I was sent to Thailand in 2017 for my education and to be able to access health care service. I have been encountering a severe health issue: my legs have swelled year by year. Since there is a lack of health education and health care services in my village, all my parents could do was to rely on traditional treatment, such as using the herbal medicine to cure my swelling legs. Nevertheless, it got exacerbated and I eventually could not walk from time to time. Sometimes I had to stay at home for a month until it got better. It is very difficult to access health care service in my village mainly because my parents cannot afford the medical bills and the transportation cost is burdensome as the hospital is only in the town. My school life was also affected by this health issue as I had to miss classes, which led me not to be able to catch up with the study.

Regardless of these hardships, my parents didn’t want me to give up on studying. They were looking for a way to provide me with a chance to continue studying without being interrupted by my health or financial issues. They learned there are migrant learning centres[3] in Mae Sot[4] area in Thailand that provide free education to children from Burma along the Thai-Burma border. My parents decided to send me to Thailand for my future.

Front view of the Ga Yuth Nar boarding house

Boarding House

I like living in the boarding house because I have access to free education as well as health care services. When I arrived here I was brought to a hospital to check my condition. Through a CT scan, a doctor told me that I have erythema and it caused some infection which caused swelling in my legs. I have received good treatment and I regularly attend the follow-up check-up. Now the swelling is getter better.

One more reason I like about the boarding house is that teachers are highly supportive and supervise us well. We are learned to improve teamwork and leadership skill through group duties. We are also given the chance to attend special training like Child Protection training and English speaking course. Through the Child Protection training, I learned what child abuse and child rights are.

Students cleaning the boarding house compound

Students watering the garden

My dream

Currently, I am in grade 6 at Hsa Tu Gaw migrant learning centre. My favourite subject is Mathematics. I’m very interested in the subject, which is the easiest for me. I want to be a doctor in the future. I think it is important to have a person who has knowledge about health and who is willing to serve for the community. If I became a doctor, I want to go back to my community and serve as a trainer for the new generation. I think health workers are really needed in my village since there is no hospital or clinic there.

Student cleaning the room

Dry Food Programme

The Dry Food programme is very important for us in the boarding house. It helps us to access to education and protection. We thank all donors and supporters for their generous contribution.

Student cooking at the kitchen

(We conduct interviews with our students in accordance with the MTC Child Protection Policy. Interviews are conducted by our responsible Child Protection staff who are trained.)

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Poor economic conditions and the lack of educational facilities are forcing students to leave their hometowns in Burma, and seek education and protection along the Thai-Burma border. Boarding houses ensure children access to education and protection. The Dry Food Programme provides food rations to 1,952 children and staff at 23 boarding houses in migrant communities (Thailand) and 15 boarding houses in IDP areas (Burma) managed by the Karen Women Organisation (KWO). The programme provides boarding house children with basic food provisions every month. Children living in the boarding house are protected from child labour and trafficking.

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[1] We used an alias for the student’s privacy

[2] Karen State is a state of Burma. It is bordered by Thailand to the east. Majority of refugees and migrants along the Thai-Burma border are from Karen State.

[3] Migrant Learning Centre (MLC): Migrant learning centres were established to give all migrant children access to quality education that is relevant and useful to them. Thanks to the support of donors and NGOs, most migrant learning centres around Mae Sot have come a long way from the early days when people ran classrooms out of bamboo huts and shops. [BMWEC website: http://www.bmwec.org/background/]

[4] Mae Sot is a city in western Thailand that shares a border with Burma to the west. It is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees. Mae Tao Clinic is located in Mae Sot [Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Sot]

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