Marist chaplain Fr Jimmy McElroy has been bringing students from Ireland to the Marist Mission in Ranong, Thailand for the past eight years.
This year, eight students from Dundalk also with four teachers Ms Aoife Mullen, Ms Anne – Marie Dullaghan, Mr Robert Marron and Ms Michelle Doherty travelled with Fr Jimmy on the mission.
‘It’s a great place to bring them for an experience and exposure to Marists on mission. The community in Ranong is so welcoming and willing to have the help of the students,” orgainsers explained.
The regular two week visit each year coincides with students at St Mary’s College, Dundalk finishing their school year, and wanting to serve and experience links with the wider Marist world.
They are selected in their Leaving Cert year and they prepare for and promote their trip with fundraising and mission awareness throughout the school.
The Marist Mission in Ranong is trying to assist Burmese migrant workers in various ways: through education of the Burmese children, through an adult education program, with health care and by running a community centre.
The students make a great contribution each year by running the ‘English Language Camp’ for around a hundred Thai and Burmese students in partnership with the local Ministry of Education and selected Thai Schools. Learning English is identified as a significant help for their futures.
The Burmese students at the Marist School in Ranong also enjoy the opportunity to be taught by the young Irish students, experiencing fun and games and an enjoyable opportunity to have conversations in English outside the classroom programme.
Students and teachers adapted quickly to the intense heat, constant threat of torrential rain and local food and set about their teaching duties.
During their time in Ranong the students teach at the Marist school, learn about the situation of Burmese migrants and the exploitative fishing industry.
As well as teaching, each Irish student and teacher accompanied a Burmese student to visit their home; thus witnessing the environment they live in and meeting their families. Eyes and hearts are opened in a new way.
Fr. Jimmy and the group wish to express gratitude to everyone who has supported the Marist Mission in Ranong in Ireland and abroad and look forward to your support in The students who travelled to Ranong were Emma Walsh, Karen O’ Rourke, Stephen Callan, Jordan Jackson, Jordan O’ Donoghue, Shane de Rís, Christopher Kellett, and Aaron Foley.