Undertaking this cycle I have the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for two local charities.
Susie Long was a friend of mine who died of cancer while I was travelling in Africa. Her diagnosis in the public health system after a seven month wait came too late. During her cancer Susie highlighted in the national media the injustice of a two tier health system which effectively prioritises attention for those with private health insurance. After her death the Susie Long Hospice Fund was set up by her husband Conor McLiam and friends to raise funds for a hospice in Kilkenny. I believe strongly in the option of quality care with dignity for anyone facing a terminal illness.
The other local charity is the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity (KRCEE), a community based organisation operating in seven Karen refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar/Burma border, focusing on refugee camp education. They support eight schools at the post-high school level. As Maggie Clarke, a fellow student in Kimmage DSC, explained, there is a need for leadership and critical thinking in higher education to counter the ‘brain drain’ in the communities.
KRCEE (Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity)
Higher education is, at best, extremely difficult to access in Eastern Myanmar as it is usually non-existent; furthermore, refugees do not have access to this level of education within Thailand, thus leaving KRCEE to fill the gap by supporting higher education in the refugee camps.
With the support of educational community based organisations, KRCEE has been overseeing educational developments across the camps. As most higher education schools were started by community members in the camps, schools often lacked structure and compatibility with other schools, making higher education a web of confusion for students and the community in general. KRCEE’s main activities include arranging training for teachers on methodology and subject upgrading, harmonising curricula across schools, coordinating material distribution to schools, general problem solving, and providing management and administration support including hiring new teachers. While not a government body, the KRCEE fulfils the same basic role as any department of education would in a stable government, but is unique in that the KRCEE power structure is arranged into committees to ensure community participation at all levels.