Suk is 26 years old. He completed his final year at Rajabhat University in Mae Hong Son, graduating in Business and Computing.
Suk’s parents moved to Thailand 24 years ago to escape the civil war in Burma. He has a younger sister, Duangjai, who is at college in Mae Hong Son. His cousin, Somsak, currently in Grade 10, grew up with him as his brother after Somsak’s mother left him with her sister, went south looking for work, and hasn’t been heard from in many years. Suk was born and grew up in Pai. As a child he attended the Rainbow School, the informal school set up by Roj and Kan, who formerly worked with Kwah Dao, as at that time Burmese Shan children could not attend local schools.
In 2012 Suk graduated from high school and started university. He chose to study Business and Computing because he always liked computers, and felt that it would enable him to find well-paid work after graduation. Suk tells us that computer programmers are in demand in Thailand, and, additionally, computing is valued as beneficial to society so will increase his chances of being able to apply for Thai nationality after graduation. His final year at university was project-based, and he had to spend several months in Bangkok from January as part of this. Although he had been to Bangkok before, this time was very different, as his previous trip was to work on a construction site in his university break.
Suk’s parents knew the value of education and worked very hard to send Suk to university and Duangjai to college in Mae Hong Son – there are no higher education options in Pai. Suk’s father works as a gardener in a guesthouse and his mother worked as a housekeeper in the same resort. Their combined income was about 18,000 Baht per month, very little with which to support two children studying in another city. They had been struggling for several years and had previously approached Kwah Dao to ask for help with Somsak’s school expenses, since which we have been contributing 500B per month.
In November 2014 tragedy struck when Suk’s mother passed away suddenly. As well having to deal with their grief and loss, the family’s financial situation became precarious as their income had been halved. His father’s salary couldn’t support the three children in their education. Suk worked as a waiter throughout his last university break and managed to save over 10,000 Baht to help with the year ahead, however this was insufficient Suk approached Kwah Dao in July 2015, before starting his final year, to ask for financial assistance.
After he completed his degree he returned to Pai and find employment, to help his father support the other two children in their studies. One day he plans to start looking for work writing computer programs or applications. If he is able, he hopes one day to open his own computer programming company. He has suggested that next year, when he returns to Pai, he could come and teach basic computing at our community centre to share what he has learnt with others.
In his free time Suk likes to play sport with friends, practice writing computer programs, and browse youtube and google to learn about new things. He also likes to spend extra time in the university library to make sure he fully understands the programs he is writing or projects he is working on. To de-stress he goes out with his friends, or finds a quiet spot to sit and be alone.