Family’s pilgrimage to meet special lady

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A PHYSICS teacher and his family made the trip of a lifetime to meet Burma’s most famous lady.

Tony Stokle, head of physics at St Robert of Newminster School in Washington, travelled to the Burmese capital of Rangoon with his son Declan and wife Anne,to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic leader of the National League for Democracy.

Tony has taken a year off from teaching to focus on developmental work with Burmalink UK, which he founded with his family, and its work on the Thai/Burma border.

Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest by Burma’s military dictatorship for the best part of 20 years for peaceful opposition against it and was only released in November 2010.

Tony said: “She was very elegant and spoke very clear English. She had a little difficulty with our north-eastern accent at first.”

Tony said that despite spending a big chunk of her life under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi seemed well adjusted.

Tony said: “She was very normal after such a long time under house arrest. She talked about her two sons, Kim and Alexander, and her dog, and family life in general.

“She was very focused and not distracted at all.”

The family presented Aung San Suu Kyi with a freedom of the city of Newcastle scroll.

After some confusion over the time of the appointment, resulting in a two-day wait for the Stokles to see if they would be able to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, they were eventually told they could travel to the National League for Democracy headquarters in Rangoon to meet Burma’s national heroine.

Tony said: “We took a taxi to the NLD headquarters where our meeting was to take place.

“The taxi driver smiled when we gave our destination.

“He knew the place well and was very happy to take us there.

“Only three months ago we would have had to take a taxi to a nearby shopping centre and walk the rest of the way as no taxi driver would dare take passengers to the NLD, as the Military Intelligence would take note of their taxi and withdraw their licence.”

The family spent about 20 minutes chatting to the renowned leader.

Twitter: @sunechohannah