Many people in Myanmar (Burma) find themselves without sufficient work. They cross Myanmar’s porous borders in search of better conditions. Those in the south of Myanmar often cross into Thailand. Estimates vary as to how many find their way into Thailand, but many would suggest that there are at least one million people from Myanmar living in Thailand.
Ranong is situated on the Thai-Myanmar border. It is in Thailand directly south of the southern-most town of Burma, Kaw Thaung.
Because of its position Thailand attracts many people from Myanmar. They are drawn to work there mostly in fishing related industries. Often they find the conditions here difficult although they are better than the conditions in their homeland.
The Marist Mission in Ranong is trying to assist these migrant workers in various ways.
- Through education of some of the children of the migrant workers,
- health care
- a community centre
- and—since we are a Roman Catholic Religious Community (the Society of Mary) – with assisting Catholics of Myanmar origin. But the assistance offered is to the neediest people regardless of their creed, age or ethnic origin.
The “Marist Mission Ranong” is under the care of the “Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand” and of the “Surat Thani Catholic Foundation”.
It is part of the wider mission of the Society of Mary throughout the world.
The members of the Marist Mission in Ranong have gone there to bring “good news” to those who are in particular distress in Ranong, especially the migrant workers and their families. The members of this mission include priests and brothers of the Society of Mary (Marists), men and women who have made long-term commitment, over several years, to the Society of Mary, and volunteers who come and give what time and talents they can offer and for as long as they can.
All of these people work together with the people of Ranong and the various agencies and communities here for the betterment of the conditions of the people here, especially the most disadvantaged.
A brief history of the mission
The Marist Mission in Ranong originated several years ago in the Philippines. The Marists in the Philippines searched for places where they might be able to assist other peoples in Asia. Myanmar seemed in special need of assistance.
A small group of four Marists went to Myanmar to try to assist there. They spent a year and a half studying the language and then going to the live and work among the Kachin people in north-east Burma in the diocese of Myitkyina in the town of Banmaw.
But after the year and a half it became impossible to acquire a visa. So the place of the mission, while remaining focused on people from Myanmar, changed to the border town of Ranong which has a majority of its population from Myanmar.
External Related Links: