Not to worry anyone, it’s under control now

Last weekend someone threw a grenade into one of the buildings at my school. It wasn’t a big bomb, but it did do some damage to the building. No one was injured since it happened during the night (which means that it wasn’t meant to injure anyone, it was meant to scare the president of the university). For a while some of us were debating going back home to Sweden early, but it’s been calm since so we decided to stay.

The thing that annoyed us the most was the schools way of informing us of what was going on. It took us more than 16 hours to get the news, and most of us read it in the news before we got the mail from the school. Our teachers were also joking about the situation and we got the feeling that the school didn’t take the situation seriously even though the police and campus security were in agreement on the fact that the grenade was most likely a political message (threat).

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Fortunately, we then got to talk to the International Student Services and the people in charge there and got a briefing of what had really happened and their preparedness for how future events would be dealt with. I think that calmed us all. Our Thai teachers joked some more about the culture difference that we wanted so much information that Thai people don’t. That might be a big difference, but what I think they sometimes forget is that we can’t access the same information the Thai student can. Everything is in Thai!

Anyway, now it feels okay, and the last few days have been calm, even in central Bangkok. We did get a message from our Swedish university that said that if we want to change our flights home their insurance would cover the costs, so that’s good to know.

Don’t want anyone to worry about me though. Everything is completely fine now, and I would never jeopardize my health or life, if I truly thought it was a dangerous situation I would have left the country already.

Now I’m going to go back to write an application for a job in North Korea!

Mae La Refugee Camp

Today I’ve had a very interesting day. I was picked up by the head of the project from Handicap International and an occupational therapist at 8.20 and then we set off toward the refugee camp. It took about an hour to get there.

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The refugee camp was quite similar to what I had expected, but that’s just because I’ve been reading quite a lot about refugees situation in Thailand right now. Their “houses” are made out of bamboo sticks and leafs, that’s the only material they’re allowed to use since the camp is supported to be temporarily. The camps has been there for 30 years by now…

Mae La is the biggest refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, it has about 50 000 registered refugees, but since refugees arriving after 2005 aren’t registered (and there fore not eligible to apply for resettlement) there is difficult to know how many people are staying in the camp. Found out there are 12-14 NGOs working there at the moment though.

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Resources available in the camp are scarce, and unfortunately it’s getting worse. Many NGOs are “forced” to leave the area because of lack of funding. Most international funding now go to NGOs going into Myanmar to work there. Which in theory is good, and necessary. But those resources are going to reach the already quite well off in Myanmar, and the poorest people in the provinces on the border to Thailand (Karen provinces) are just like today, not going to get anything for quite a while. People are, still today, fleeing Myanmar. Karen and other minorities in the north/east and Rohingya muslims in the south.

It’s a very difficult situation which effects the already vulnerable people the most. During my visit to the camp I did get lots of good material to my study though, which I have to be happy with.