Teaching migrants in Ranong has changed the way Laura sees life


Aucklander Laura McLellan says her experience working as a teacher Ranong, South Thailand, has had an immense impact on the way she sees her world and the people in it.

Laura is working with a Marist community teaching English and social studies within the Burmese migrant community.

She was a volunteer in the Marist Youth development group Logos in Auckland.

Through Logos, she was put in contact with Father Frank Bird, who is the director of Marist Asia Foundation.

Before going to Thailand Frank had been the director of the Logos Project.

Laura said the experience has made her aware of why education is such a vital catalyst in breaking the cycle of poverty.

“When migrants arrive in Thailand it is hard for them to get into employment as they can’t speak, read or write in the Thai language,” she says.

“This leaves a lot of migrants no choice but to work in fish, frozen food and charcoal factories or other plantation work.”

The factory conditions are often long and intense, their hours starting around 5 am and not finishing till around 7 or 8 pm.

Laura has extended her stay till March 2019, the end of the school year in Thailand.

She thinks it would be disruptive for students to get a new teacher so late in the year.

“I’ve also grown such a strong attachment to my students and the community that I want to do as much as I can to show love here, and I feel that staying longer will allow me to do this.”

She admits that at times it is difficult: “but all I want to do is continue bringing God’s presence into this space.

“All the comforts of home can wait, but for now, I know I’m where I am called to be.”

Marist Asia Foundation works within both education and healthcare to assist migrants in Ranong to have access to a wider range of opportunities and have brighter futures.


  • Supplied: Laura McLellan
  • NZ Catholic
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