Who Am I? My name is Kerri Smith. In 2012 I was privileged to get an invitation from a dear friend to join a group that was going to SE Asia, to work in an English Scholar Camp as an Art/Craft teacher in a Migrant Village School. After an amazing 16 days, I came home with a passion I could not let go of.
Who Are These People I Serve? To let you understand a little about these Migrants, you must relate to them not as foreigners to SE Asia, but like the victims of a man made disaster! What do I mean by this? The government in this region of the world consider anyone not living in the province of their birth mother - a migrant! That's like you and I moving away from our hometowns to another county for a better job, education, medical care, etc. - then being treated like scum in the city we chose to live in! For example: I met a precious young woman in one of the large cities where I teach. She moved to the city from her hometown of her birth mother to follow her dream to get an education. Her hometown had no such opportunities! When she arrived to this city of opportunity she was very young, alone, and had no where to live. The money she did have was only enough to enable her to rent a storage shed. She lived in that storage shed for one year. No running water, no appliances to prepare meals or keep them, no toilet, no bed, only one bag of clothes. She found work where she could, getting odd jobs - whatever she could get - to buy food and pay for one months storage rent at a time. She found an English corner where volunteers taught how to speak and read English. Finally an American business took an interest in her and sponsored her so she could attend college. Now - as a young adult - she has finished college, married, has a good job, her own apartment, and a bright future to give her future children. A future in which they will not be labeled a 'Migrant'. Her children will be able to get a good education, assuming they keep living in this same province as their mother.
I personally can not fathom the drive these people have to do what they do to survive a move that would be their, or their children's, only hope for a future. The government does not help these Migrants whatsoever! They don't have food stamps, Medicaid, low income housing, homeless shelters. They are not allowed to go to public schools and no money to attend Migrant schools! They can't be treated at the Hospital or see a Doctor unless they have the money to pay up front! Their housing is under bridges, in tents, or if you're lucky - a storage unit! All in the hopes of making a better life for their future descendants. Some were forced off their own farms which had been passed down from generation to generation. Forced to leave their villages.
What Do I Do To Serve? I have been going back every year to SE Asia, for a month or two, to teach the English language wherever I am invited to do so. Sometimes I teach thru the use of Art/Crafts/Games/Finger Puppets, things that bring enjoyment to learning the English language. I have been invited to teach in English Corners (groups that gather in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, any public place), Migrant Schools, and even into the Government Churches. Every school has a national test on English that a child or young adult must pass in order to advance to the next level of education. English is the language of business! Since the majority of Industry in SE Asia is American owned, even foreigners from other countries must speak English to work in industries there, or teach in the schools and colleges. I even teach many adults as they try to learn more English so they can advance on their jobs. It is just very important to this generation of Asians, to know the English language. I even have elderly students that want to learn English because many of their children live in America and they want to be able to communicate with them.
What Do I Take With Me To Help The Migrants? Since the Migrant Schools don't get Government support. The schools and the children are solely supported through sponsorships and scholarships - some private - but mostly from American companies that have headquarters, or manufacturing plants located in SE Asia. Every year I like to bring loads of supplies with me. Supplies like dental floss; toothbrushes; toothpaste; personal hygiene items; bandages; antibiotic ointments; school supplies of any kind; arts and craft supplies; games; backpacks; tote bags; puppets; even American sugarless chewing gum! I take as much as I can get into suitcases and bring them along with me - paying the extra baggage fees. You may ask why not just ship them? It can take months to arrive - if they arrive to the schools at all. Many shipments just disappear from theft and end up for sale on the streets. Finally - I take a heart to help and serve these children, young people, adults and the elderly - to teach them the English Word.
How Will These Funds Be Used? I am retired, so I have the time - but limited resources to follow my passion! Especially this trip coming up in a few short months. I spent the month September 2014 in SE Asia teaching, but a few weeks ago I was invited to return to fulfill a need in SE Asia. This short turn around has given me little time to do my normal year long fundraising (garage sales, pancake feeds, chili feeds, etc). A friend told me about this Fundraising Web site. It's hard for me to ask for help, so I would start to do it - then delete it, start - then delete. A wise friend of mine told me not to feel bad about asking for help. She said many have the money to go, but are not willing to go - so allow them that can help - send you! This time, let the fundraising campaign begin!
Your donations will be used for: Visa fees; roundtrip economy class Airfare; Travel Insurance; extra baggage fees; ground transportation to and from the city destination (bus or train depending on how many extra bags I have to take for the supplies. Sometimes I have to rent a van and driver because I can't handle it all on public transportation); inner city transportation (subway, bus and occasional Taxi when I get out of night class after the subway or busses stop running); rent for one month; food.
There is no donation too small. I pray that it will be returned to you ten fold and your cup of blessings be overflowing! Please pass this on to all you know. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!