by Meyrem Hussein
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Burmese democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has asked children in Camden to help fellow pupils in Burma.
Burma’s opposition leader recorded a personal message for pupils at Brookfield Primary School asking them to send “simple things” such as exercise books and crayons.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent almost 15 years under house arrest in her own country, said: “Sitting here in Burma [it] must seem very, very far away from you in Brookfield Primary School, but in many ways we are very close together, because I’m working to create schools for Burmese children.
“Many Burmese children cannot go to school, and a lot of them can’t afford to keep on going to school, either because their parents cannot afford to send them or because they have to help their parents earn more money.
“So many Burmese children by the age of about nine or 10 have to leave their schools. I wonder if there’s anything you might be able to do to help those children – perhaps by helping our schools?
“We need all sorts of things – like exercise books, pencils, geometry sets, simple things, crayons, atlases. Not very complicated things.
“We still cannot use complicated materials because our schools are so simple – some of them just thatched huts.
“So, I’m speaking to you from Burma, and you must ask your headmaster to tell you what my name is because it’s long and complicated and you’ll probably have to repeat it several times so that you can catch on to it.
“Also how we might be able to help you if there’s anything that you would like us to do for you here. Thank you.”
She recorded the message after meeting former director of the Burma Campaign UK, Yvette Mahon, who is a parent at Brookfield in Chester Road, Highgate.
Headteacher Mark Stubbings said: “We just feel incredibly honoured. It made the children feel very special and very important.
“They really want to respond to her message.”
Brookfield is raising money for the 220-pupil Sandarama School, in Rangoon, and has sent out a film-maker so the schools can exchange videos of daily life.
Brookfield has received a visit from the former British ambassador to Burma, Vicky Bowman, who told them what life is like for Burmese children.
Her husband, the artist and former political prisoner Htein Lin, shared stories of having to smuggle paints into prison.
Ms Mahon, of Twisden Road, Dartmouth Park, said: “I hope that they learn to appreciate each others’ differences, but also see that there are a lot of things they have in common.”
To donate to Sandarama School, send a cheque payable to Brookfield Primary School, with Sandarama written on the back, to Brookfield Primary School, Chester Road, London, N19 5DH.