New Hope Dormitory, Umphium Mai Camp
New Hope Dormitory was Room to Grow’s first project. The dormitory came to our attention after a candle fire burnt the building to the ground. Today, the dorm houses 20 male students aged 14 to 19. All of the boys are from internally displaced families, which means their villages and homes were destroyed at one point. Their families remain inside Burma. Some families have set up new homes, some are forced to continually move due to military activity on the part of the Burmese military regime. These families made a decision to send their boys away from danger, across the border, into the refugee camps in Thailand so that they can be safe and get an education and avoid becoming soldiers.
All the boys at the dorm have expressed a deep commitment to education. All of them would eventually like to return to their families and bring with them what they have learned. Our goal is to ensure that their current living situation is adequate for them to focus on their studies.
One student at the dorm, an 18-year-old boy in his last year of high school named Mya Wa, walked for days through the jungle in order to get across the border. He dreams about attending a post-high school program in the camp to gain more skills for his community in Burma. Another student also finishing high school, Eh Dah, wants to get more health education after high school to help his village once he goes back.
New Hope is currently monitored by a community member who acts as the Boarding House Leader, however most of the day to day running of the dormitory is handled by the boys themselves. Tu Poe is 19 years old and has been in the dormitory for the last three years. He has taken on a leadership role in the boarding house, acting as a leader and role model for the other boys. We have worked closely with him in this capacity over the last year and will continue to do so in the year to come.