By Bob Allen
The Baptist World Alliance has sent $25,000 in emergency financial aid to help rebuild a Baptist-run school at a refugee camp along the Thai-Burmese border destroyed by fire in April.
The money sent through Baptist World Aid will go about halfway toward rebuilding Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College at the Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand. On top of construction costs estimated at $50,000, another $10,000 will be needed for furnishings, equipment and supplies for about 300 students who were enrolled at the school before an April 28 blaze put its future in doubt.
Home to about 50,000 Karen refugees, a predominantly Baptist ethnic minority group first reached by American Baptist missionaries in the 19th century, Mae La is the largest of nine refugee camps in the area.
Known in Karen as “cotton field” because of agricultural activities in the area first opened to refugees in 1984, it is regarded as the educational center for an estimated 140,000 refugees in the area who fled civil war in their native country, also known as Myanmar.
The Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College was founded in the Mae Le refugee camp by Principal Saw Simon, recipient of the Baptist World Alliance Human Rights Award in 2000.