For one dollar a day Every child is entitled to an education and to live as full a life as possible. Refugee children with, or without, disabilities deserve the same. Indigenous Karen people from Burma have lived as refugees in camps in Thailand for a long time. We formed the Karen Women’s Organization to strengthen and serve our community. There were no Special Education services in our homeland, nor in the refugee camps. Children with disability were at home, often sitting in a dark corner, and their parents had no support. So we organized ourselves and built a project to provide services and support to children with special needs. We trained refugee women to work with our disabled children and to support parents. We raised money. And we have changed lives. Tragically, our financial support has been severely reduced as other refugee crises have pulled resources.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, individual sponsors and support from the community, KWO was able to continue the Special Education Project successfully throughout the 2016-17 school year. We thank you for your encouragement and assistance. We are looking forward to the new year and hope you all stay with us!
Saw Moo Ler Poe is 6 years old and lives in Umpiem refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border. In 2011 he was suffering from severe malnutrition and multiple disabilities, including speech and developmental problems. That year he enrolled in the KWO Special Education project. When he first came to us, he couldn’t turn his body or move around and resisted joining in the activities with his Special Education (SE) teacher and other children. Like many teachers around the world, the KWO teacher didn’t give up. She continued to work with him during home visits and specially designed play sessions. These changed his life. In 2014 he began coming to small group learning sessions at the Special Education Centre everyday. Now he joins activities with other children, can walk, eat, drink, and clean himself. He likes to sing, dance, and come to school every day. During story time he pays attention, looking at the pictures as he listens to the story. Saw Moo Ler Poe loves to color in and do other art. His speech is still limited but he uses facial expressions and gestures to communicate with the teachers and other people. He’s one story among many of the big difference this program is making in people’s lives.
The KWO Special Education project also works with parents to help them support their children. Saw Moo Ler Poe’s parents tell us all the time what a difference the project has made. They use the activities the SE teacher has shown them and it’s meant they have to spend less time taking care of him. Just the fact that he can eat by himself and wash up has made everything easier and better for him and them.
Saw Moo Ler Poe’s parents told us, “We used to have to take him to the doctor every month at least, but now he is much healthier. He’s developed so much. We are very grateful for all the support”
We are in desperate need of funding for this project for the coming year. If you can give please do.
The Karen Women’s Organization held a Special Education Project, Training of Trainers from January, 12, 2015 to Feb, 11, 2015. Teachers, school directors and trainers from 7 camps attended. We also invited nursery school staff from Karen State for the 3rd week and 4th week, because some of the training topics related to any nursery school so were helpful to them. Continue reading
In September 2014, KWO’s Special Education students, staff and families celebrated International Deaf Day. We worked together to raise awareness, to show our abilities and to educate our communities about living with deafness. These events took place in all seven camps. Activities included action songs, dramas, role-plays and using Karen Deaf Sign Language to communicate with the audience.
The Special Education Students participated in competitions (songs, drawing photos, paper folding art, matching memory games, and writing games) with other organizations in the camps to build relationships. The SE Teachers took part in the activities with students, and conducted quizzes to challenge community knowledge about disability. Community leaders also gave speeches to the students, parents and community members.
The Deaf students especially enjoyed the opportunity to teach community members how to use Karen Sign Language: words for fruit, days of the week, animals, and clothing were practiced by hundreds of people. This event was an opportunity for “the quiet people” to increase awareness about deafness.
For the 2014-15 project year, there are 420 students in 7 camps, 142 SE staff in camp and 11 SE town based staff members. So far in this project year, the SE project has done many activities.
In April 2014, for two weeks, the SE project coordinator attended a training at Khom Loy Development Foundation about basic Montessori. The project coordinator will take the skills and knowledge she gained from the trianing and give similar trainings to SE town based staff and SE teachers in camp. Continue reading
The Karen Women’s Organization’s Special Education Project works to positively impact the lives of children with special needs and advocate on their behalf to achieve basic rights. One way KWO’s SE Project is working towards this goal is through the creation of the Karen Sign Language (KSL). There are currently 7 volumes of KSL. Volumes 1 -5 were produced by World Education. World Education then handed over the SE project to KWO in 2007. KWO has now produced volumes 6 and 7 of KSL through a collaborative effort of KWO SE project staff, former deaf students, SE teachers and trainers. All the volumes that KWO has produced include NEW signs. These words never had a sign in KSL before, so they could not be used in communication. Thanks to the hard work of KWO’s SE team, communication in Karen for those who are deaf has improved and diversified.
KWO SE staff, in town and in camps, will continue to create new signs and produce KSL videos in the future. We hope that these videos will be a helpful resource for the community (deaf and non-deaf) and aid in positively impacting the lives of the members of the Karen community who are deaf.
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 1
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 2
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 3
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 4
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 5
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 6
Karen Sign Language KSL Vol 7
KWO wrapped up a full month of Special Education Training of Trainers. The training involved 24 participants, including our special education trainers, school directors, and town staff. People came from all 7 camps where we conduct this important project. A few senior staff from our Nursery School Project also attended since many of the topics covered can help that project as well. The training was conducted by KWO staff along with staff from World Education and the Christian Centre for Development of People with Disabilities.
Training topics that were covered included: Behavior management, Identifying different Disabilities in New Enrollments, Social Inclusion, Learning Disabilities, Assessment, Observation, Helping Children with Autism, Early Intervention, Stimulation for Very Young Children, Learning through Play, Toy Making, Organizing the Classroom, Learning Through Practice, Parenting Skills, Children’s Learning Processes, Child Psychology, Finance and Management, and the KWO Structure.
KWO’s Special Education Project has 4 main components:
- Early Intervention with young children with disabilities (home visits and at SE Centres)
- Inclusive Education (in mainstream school, SE Centres and home visits)
- School for students with hearing impairments
- School for students with visual impairments
In August 2013 we conducted a one week basic Montessori Training workshop for Special Education and Nursery School Project senior staff and trainer. The training covered the Montessori method and principles. During the workshop participants also went to a Thai private primary school (Tan Tip) and The Christian Center for the Development of People with Disabilities.
In September and again in October senior staff conducted a two week basic Montessori training to all teachers in all 7 Karen camps. There was also a follow up training, and monitoring in Nu Poe, Umpiem , Ma La, Mae Ra Ma Luang and Mae La Oo camps.
KWO implemented Montesori teaching methods in its special education project this year. These trainings are part of our ongoing efforts to improve and develop our work and services.
Also in August we conducted one week workshop covering our Deaf Curriculum. There were about 15 participants, a trainer, deaf students and KWO project staff.
KWO is pleased to provide our 2011/12-update report including programs currently running in the community, challenges and successes, financial reports, KWO special activities and a Call to Action. One thing that remains true throughout KWO’s 28 years of service is our commitment to the Empowerment, Equality, and Freedom of all Karen women. Thank you to KWO staff, leaders, members, volunteers, community members, partner organizations and funders who help make KWO successful!