Nuan is 26 years old and graduated after studying Chinese and Business at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai.
Born in Burma, Nuan’s mother died when Nuan was just a few years old. Her father abandoned the family so she lived with her grandmother and older siblings. They were incredibly poor and as a 5 –year-old Nuan remembers walking kilometres to fetch water and burning wood into charcoal to sell on the street instead of going to school.
In about 2001 her older sister, Ying, brought her to live in Thailand with herself and her new husband, Yo. Not long after she was seen by Kwah Dao workers who invited her to attend their makeshift school, and after that was shut down got her a place in a local school. She was, however, very unhappy due to discrimination and subsequently moved to another school closer to her sister’s home. Home life was hard for Nuan, she had tense relationships with both Ying and Yo and spent a lot of time with KD workers for respite and support. Despite this she would help out whenever she could by caring for Ying’s son and weaving hammocks, for extra money, almost every day after school. She is the only person in the family to finish primary school.
This history has left an indelible mark on her, and she has remarkable enthusiasm and gratitude for the basic privileges of school, food, and leisure time. Over the years KD staff have focused on developing a relationship with Nuan based on trust, caring, and consistency– to show Nuan that some things do last, and that she is valuable and, in their words, “a very lovely and beautiful person. She is very kind—not like the other children are not kind—but Nuan, she will always share and give.” Most of her time with KD staff is spent talking—about her life, family, village, friends, and school.
In 2010, KD helped Nuan to move to Chiang Mai and attend a private school, giving her a stable home environment which allowed her time to study, and guaranteeing that she would receive a decent high school education and a diploma upon completion. (Thai public schools sometimes withhold diplomas from refugee students, even if they finish all work.) She flourished at her new school and during her 3 years in Chiang Mai her grades rose consistently. She also had the opportunity to study Chinese which she loved, and led to her decision to apply for Chinese and Business at university. In 2013 she was the first KD student to graduate from high school.
Academically, the transition to university was a struggle for Nuan, however she tackled it with her trademark courage and positivity, worked extremely hard and completed her studies with solid grades. We are very proud to have witnessed Nuan’s transformation into the determined young women she is today.