Donnie, who was fourteen years old in the photo, is now twenty-one. He has survived, so far. He has also graduated from high school. Although his school was located in a refugee camp, it was run by a dedicated Australian teacher who demanded the greatest effort from her students. Donnie was one of the top students in the school.
He achieved his highest marks in history, and is excellent at languages. He is fluent in Karen; strong in Thai and English, both verbal and written; and competent in Burmese. Because of his language skills, he serves as an interpreter for the Karen leadership for their meetings with representatives of foreign organizations. This is a remarkable responsibility, and opportunity, for such a young man.
Donnies dream is to better serve his people. He recognizes that this will be best accomplished by continuing his studies at university.
The Karen population is approximately seven million. They have been fighting for over fifty years for their right to self-determination. When the Burmese dictatorship is defeated, they will have a choice: either full independence; or to have their own state in a new federal union.
In either case, Donnie has a bright future ahead of him, for example, by helping to represent the Karen in the effort to create a new, democratic Burma. This would be an extraordinary transformation: from a child soldier to a university graduate and social architect.
Dictator Watch is seeking
to assist Donnie in his quest to enter university. He would like to apply to
schools in Thailand, and also in English-speaking nations such as the United
States and Australia. If you know of universities that accept individuals with
such challenging backgrounds, or of potential sources of financial assistance
for such students, please let us know.
September 2002 update: Donnie has run into some difficulties because his school certificate is not recognized for university applications. We are looking at options to get him proper certification. In the meantime, he has enrolled in a Thai school and is progressing, naturally, at an accelerated rate. This is also improving his Thai to the point of fluency. In addition, he is continuing to make good progress with his English studies, such that by the end of the year he should be ready to take the TOEFL exam. And, he has studied website programming and is now an accomplished site programmer.
September 2003 update: Donnie has yet to take the TOEFL exam, but he has obtained a passport. He has even taken his first foreign trip, to Singapore. Donnie is the webmaster for a Karen activist group, that works to bring aid to internally displaced persons. The group also arranges for foreign diplomats to visit IDP and refugee camps along the Thai border, and through this Donnie has met, and served as the guide for, members of the British Parliament and also the US Congress. For university his goal now is to study computer science. At the moment he is attempting to arranging funding to attend a university in Thailand. Any assistance at all to support this endeavor would be greatly appreciated. Further information about Donnie, including how to contact him directly, is available upon request.