KITE House formed in late 2002 in response to the relocation of Camp 3 to the site of Camp 2. (The combined larger camp has since been re-named Camp 1). As a result of this camp move, a group of students and their teachers who had previously been living separately in Camp 3 joined together to form a make-shift "family".
Because of the nature of the house, its size, the philosophy, and the fact that all of the members are young, it has been a conscious decision to have the group grow cautiously and slowly. Today, there are 10 people living at the house: nine students and one house "leader." The students are all in High School and Post 10 (the equivalent of about grades 11 and 12 in the US system) with the exception of Nyea Meh -- a new arrival from inside Karenni State who is in Fourth Standard. Their reasons for coming to KITE House are varied. Some have no other family in the camp while others come from homes that are already overcrowded or in crisis.
The idea behind KITE house is to give students space to study and grow and to nurture their abilities and decision-making skills. Unlike other traditional "dormitories", there are no set rules and consequences. The members set expectations for themselves together as a group and hold each other accountable. This allows students to make decisions based on natural, rather than arbitrary, consequences.
The students each take a leadership role in the house in rotation on a monthly basis. The leader is responsible for ensuring that the daily functioning of the house (the cooking, cleaning, and garden work) runs smoothly and for leading the monthly meetings that the students. Pleh Meh and Stephar Htoo are the house treasurers.
Vegetable gardens and a banana grove surround the KITE House buildings. The students at KITE House maintain the gardens in which they grow seasonal vegetables and spices. This summer holiday, Wee Reh attended a four-week training on agriculture. He learned how to grow plants with minimal damage to the environment and has started to pass this information on to the other KITE House students as they tend the gardens.
The facilities also include four main houses and a kitchen, a bathroom, two toilets, a well (which is shared with the surrounding community), and vegetable gardens. The students can also access a computer in a separate facility during the weekends and holidays. One of the four main buildings also houses the KITE Library and Learning Center.
The KITE Library and Learning Center
The purpose of the KITE Library and Learning Center is to provide a space and resources for students in the KITE House and surrounding camp community to study. The electricity that lights the study area for three to four hours every evening is crucial. Without this, most students would have to study by candle-light. In addition, there are a few books (in both Burmese and English), newspapers, and magazines for students to borrow or use at the Library and Learning Center.
This summer holiday, a KITE House student, Ko Reh, offered English classes at the Library and Learning Center for thirty High School students. The original plan was to teach about 15 to 20 students, but many more were interested and Ko Reh was willing to expand his class to more than thirty students. Extra materials (including a whiteboard and textbooks) were kindly leant by Karenni Post 10. While the Library and Learning Center will primarily be used for small group and self-study, we hope to be able to offer more organized courses and training for students and members of the community in the future.
Hso Phe Soe United Football Club
Hso Phe Soe United Football Club was founded by Phe Du in early 2003. The thirty members of this team come from KITE House and the surrounding section of the camp. They train daily and scrimmage on Sundays. Phe Du formed the team to provide guidance, exercise, and entertainment for the young boys as an alternative to drinking and other risky behaviors. The response from the community has been extremely supportive. One section leader donated t-shirts and the players on the team each contributed a small amount of money to have numbers printed on them.
The club hopes to one day have full team uniforms and enough footballs to have proper training. In addition, the community leaders and Hso Phe Soe United would like to encourage other members of the Karenni refugee community to form similar football clubs.
The Members of KITE House
The nine students who live in KITE House wrote the following autobiographies.
I came from Karenni State. My name's Stephar Htoo. I am 19 years old and a Post Ten student. When I was young, I stayed with my family in a village. We don't have school in our village. My parents heard about in a refugee camp they have a school. My parents sent me because they wanted me to be an educated person. Then, I left my family to continue my education. That changed me.
I wanted to study. However, I was set to leave my family and security wasn't good. Burmese soldiers were all around the border area. It was very difficult for me to leave but my uncle went with me and brought me to the camp here. When I arrived, I lived with my uncle. They didn't have enough of everything, especially food. Sometimes, at the weekend, I went to find food. At that time, I didn't have many friends. I often met problems and felt sad. Sometimes, I didn't want to continue my education. I only wanted to stay with my family.
When I had free time I didn't spend a lot of time to study. I spent more time to work.
In 1997, my family moved to the refugee camp. I didn't stay with my family. I lived with my friends in another camp because they didn't have a high school in my parents' camp. Later I went to stay at KITE House. My parents can't supply everything for me so I had to stay at KITE House.
My favorite subject is English. All of people in the world are using English language. Also English is an international language. I have decided that if I finish my school I will help all of my people because I spent a lot of time to go to school and also my parents, uncle, and KITE house help me.
My name is Say Reh or Thane Reh. I was born in 1983. I am from Karenni State. I was staying in the west of Karenni when I was a child. I lived with my grandmother. My mother had a new husband. I didn't live with my new father because he didn't ask my old father who went to work on the Karenni border. My mother and new father married in 1988 but I was never happy with my new father. For most of the time I lived with my grandmother. I had to control the cows like a cowboy for my grandmother. I wanted to go to school when I was 7 and 8 years old, but nobody paid for me.
When I was 8 years old I came to say with my father in the Karenni refugee camp, between the Thai - Burma border. I started my education when I was 9 years old in 1991. Now I study in Grade 10 in the Karenni Refugee Camp 1.
We have seven subjects in our high school. English and mathematics are my favorite subjects. When I have free time I play sports like football and volleyball. Also I like reading, writing, and playing guitar. I very much like music and I can play the guitar. I hope to be a famous singer in Karenni State. Most of the time I sing songs and write songs about love and our country. When I sing my own song it's like a vista for me. In the summer holiday I go to visit my friends and go to the parties. Also I study music.
When I came to stay in the KITE House I feel very well because the place is very nice. Also I like the area so much because the area is so quiet. I like quiet. Nine students live in the KITE House including me. That's why I came to live in this house, because I really want to continue my education. Thank you so much.
In 1990 I was staying with my parents in a small village. My father went to the farm everyday. I always took care of my sister and my older sister helped her with her homework. I remember the Karenni Army always came to our village and they slept there one or two days and then continued on their way.
When they found this out, the Burma military attacked. Some villagers were killed or abducted. A week later the Burma Army came nearer and nearer to our village and we couldn't stay any longer so we all moved to the camp.
Now I am 19 years old and study at Post Ten. My favorite subjects are English Grammar and Writing. I want to read stories about detectives and Student Weekly [a student magazine in English].
That is why I came and lived in this house, because I really want to continue my education. I can say everything is convenient for me to improve my knowledge. So thank you very much.
I'm Pleh Meh and I'm a student in Post Ten First Year. I'm 20 years old. I come from Karenni State. I came to the refugee camp with my friends because when I was living in my village I had many problems to go to school every year. In my village, we have only primary and middle school. If we want to go to high school we have to move to another town but not everyone could go to high school. So I decided to come to the refugee camp and fortunately, I can continue my education also. I like reading in my free time. My favorite subject is English. My parents are Mi Reh and Toe Meh. My mother died suddenly when I was 5 years old. I have two older sisters and one younger sister. They are staying inside Karenni State. Now I'm living in KITE House because I have no place to stay and I have to continue my studies.
My name is Hsae Reh. I'm 19 years old. I come from Karenni State. When I was a child I stayed in Karenni State near the Thai border in a small village. We were farmers. Because the Burmese government wanted to rule our state and the Burmese soldiers came to fight, our soldiers started fighting in our state. They had fought near our village and we moved to the camp. We can't go back to out village because the Burmese soldiers burnt all our houses and food. We can't do anything and we are coming to stay in the refugee camp now.
I'm a student. I study in Tenth Standard. When I have free time sometimes I visit somewhere, I read, play, and sometimes listen to the radio. My favorite subjects are English and History.
My family was very poor. In my family we have nine people. We have not enough anything to buy and my mother tries to find money by weaving day by day. My father tries to make a farm to grow some fruits. I have two brothers and three sisters. One brother has got married and one didn't. Three sisters are studying.
If I stay with them, my parents don't have enough for me and I can't study at their house. I came live in my teacher's house because I need more education to do something. Please may I stop here and I can't explain more by myself. Thanks.
My name is Sheh Reh. I come from Karenni State. I will tell you a little about the story of coming to the refugee camp. Burma came to invade our state. Many people are afraid of the Burmese. My family came to the refugee camp. I'm 18 years old and in Standard 10. In my free time I stay at home. Sometimes I go to visit my friends. My favorite subject is English. In my family there are four brothers. I am the only one who goes to school. I want to study more so I came to live in this family group.
I come from Karenni. In 1985 the Burmese military and Karenni Army were against each other and fighting. I am 18 years old and I study in 9th Standard in Karenni High School. When I have free time I read the newspaper. After I finish my studies I would like to work with the community. In my house it is noisy so I came to live in KITE House.
I am Khu Ko Reh. I come from Karenni State. I am 20 years old and a student. I am studying in Karenni Refugee Camp Post Ten School. ow I am in my second year. There are many different subjects. English Grammar is my favorite subject. I usually read story books if I have free time in school or at home.
When I lived inside, I had no parents but I lived with my uncle and aunt. There was not enough money and food for study. Also, Burmese soldiers forced me to work. Therefore, I wanted to move and come in the Karenni Refugee Camp to study freely.
Before I left the village, I lived with my friends happily. I left the village because it was not convenient for me, so I came to the refugee camp. At first, I went to the jungle with my friends and uncle to escape forced labor. In the jungle there was no blanket, water, and salt. I struggled in the jungle for a week. It took seven days to reach the Karenni Refugee Camp.
Even though I reached the Karenni Refugee Camp, I had no place and no house to live. I am an orphan. I sacrificed to live together with my uncle and aunt again. In the end, fortunately, I heard about a new house and asked to live there. Before I lived there, I found many difficult things, for instance, no place to live. Therefore, I am living at KITE House now.
There are 8 people in my family. Most of them are teenagers, but they are not all students. I have two older sisters and one older brother. The other people are my younger brothers and sisters. They are all orphans because of no parents. Although I have no parents, I love them very much. However, four people have already arrived in the Karenni Refugee Camp. I miss them very much because they are still in the village inside. There are four farmers, but the others are students.
I am Nyea Meh. I am 12 years old. I am studying in Fourth Standard in Karenni Refugee Camp 1.
I came from Karenni State. When I lived inside Burmese soldiers oppressed my parents. My parents couldn't send me to school and I didn't study very well with my parents. I struggled with other students. Everything was very difficult for me to study, so I came to the Karenni Refugee Camp to study.
When I left the village of Daw Nyae Khu, I came with my aunt from inside to the Karenni Refugee Camp.
Even though I arrived in Karenni Refugee Camp, I had no parents I lived with my friends in Camp 1. Nobody controlled and supported me. Therefore I am living at KITE House now. (Translated by Pleh Meh)
The Founders and Leaders of KITE House
I have been living on the Thai-Karenni border for about ten years. I came to the refugee camp because the Burmese Army is always near my village. So, it is very difficult to get an education there and to avoid forced labor and portering for the army. One of my brothers also lives in the refugee camp, but the rest of our family lives in Karenni State. After finishing Tenth Standard I became a teacher at a middle school. For a long time I wanted to open a boarder in the camp for young people who have no families and support in the camp. I hope to be able to give the students some help in making decisions in their lives. I am very interested in continuing my studies and am especially interested in media and journalism.
Name: Beh Reh
Age : 26 yrs
I was born in Karenni State, Dee Maw Hsoe Township at Daw Nyay Ku village. I have two sisters and two brothers. My family is all farmers. They work on the farm day by day. By being farmers lives time by time and year and year, they become poor families especially after the uprising in Burma in 1988. In addition, they could not pay for my school fee, exam fee, sport fee, etc… very often at that time. I finished my school 7-grade in Karenni State, Burma. Thus, I left my families in 1993 and then I fled into Thailand. The reasons why I am coming to Thailand so difficulty to survival regarding to the politic crises in Burma. I though that in order to improve my life, my people and my country, the education is very important for me so I continued my 8 grade in the Thai-Burma boarder line at the Karenni refugee camp.
During my asylum in Thailand, I graduated Karenni Post Ten school in 1999. Post Ten school is the highest studies level in Karenni. The students who after the high school can join the Post Ten if they are qualified with the Post Ten test. During my studies, I encountered many difficulties such as school uniforms, personal items because there was no assistance from any organization but I tried my best how much as I could anyhow.
So when I finished my studies in Karenni, the ideas of I willing to look after the young students who come to live in the refugee camps and stay far away from their parents as no relatives in the camps. It means I already encountered the same problems as these young students. I am very interested to organize doing things in the community.
I came from the United States to Thailand in 2000 and began teaching in Karenni Refugee Camp 3 in 2001. When Camp 3 started relocating in 2002, some students, friends, and I were unsure about where and how we would move. We decided to build a house together and invited a few other friends and students who otherwise had no place to live in the new camp. The generosity of some of my friends outside of the camp helped to fund the initial construction and continues to fund the basic needs of the students. I hope to continue to be involved with KITE House and the Karenni people.
KITE House would like to thank Stu for making and maintaining this website. Also, we'd like to thank Sam, Stu, Wes, and Owen for their donations. Their generous contributions have made KITE House possible.