A TEACHER is helping refugees who fled a military regime turn around their fortunes as they begin their new lives.
Chris Crick, pictured, has taken on the role as a director with the Burma Education Partnership. He flew out to an area on the border with Thailand to see the charity’s work for himself.
The 55-year-old, a lecturer in English at Sunderland College, spent a fortnight in Mae Sot to see how a programme is helping people forced from their homes and villages by civil war learn new skills.
The project focuses on training teachers to lead lessons on English and giving families a chance to complete the Cambridge Certificate.
Chris, who previously worked as an assistant head and head of English at Seaham School of Technology, said: “Because I’ve become a director of the charity I wanted to see the programme and workers in training.
“I looked around different schools to see how things are going and learn a bit more about the people and how we can offer support where we can.
“I was just amazed by the volunteers and some of the work they are doing in quite difficult circumstances.
“It’s really making a difference in very basic conditions and working hard.”
Chris, who lives with partner Eileen Loughlin on the outskirts of Durham and is dad to Sean, 25, Annie, 23, and Michael, 20, also met members of the Thai education ministry to discuss work.
In addition to training and fund-raising, the Durham-based charity also writes text books for use by the teachers.
Among its work is a sponsorship programme which invites a school, teacher, union branch, community group or centre to become a sponsor.
More information about the organisation’s work can be found at www.burmaeducationpartnership.org with donations to be made through its Just Giving page.
PEOPLE helped by the charity could see their country change for the better after moves were made to turn it away from military rule.
Burma has been considered a pariah state for decades because of its appalling human rights record, with its economy said to be one of the least developed in the world.
From 1962 up until last year, the country, also known as Myanmar, was ruled by the army despite international criticism and sanctions.
Among those comments are attacks on its corruption and generals, who have been accused of human rights abuses, including relocating families and widespread use of labour, including children.
Many thousands have been uprooted, although ceasefires have recently been signed with rebels of the Karen and Shan ethnic groups which could put a stop to conflict.
Its first general election for 20 years was held in 2010, which was hailed as a step towards civilian democracy, although the vote was boycotted by the main opposition group the National League for Democracy (NLD) which is led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
She was released from a 15-year period of house arrest following the election, and has announced she will run for parliament in this year’s by-elections.