Sister Lakana found out that many children were left alone while their parents were working at the dry-fish factory called "Pla Ching Chang" in Aongkarn (Koh Sirey)
Sister Lakana initially gathered 20 children between 1 and 10 years old and started teaching them with the help of one Burmese teacher and one part-time Thai teacher. The owner of the dry-fish factory agreed to let us have a small hut to run the centre.
We improved the hut with the help of the parents and friends of GSLC but the number of children kept increasing. Soon, we had three classrooms and one big room for the Kindergarten.
There were too many children in an unsafe working area and the Thai Police carried out regular checks to ensure that there were no illegal workers, thus we had to move. Thankfully, the Good Shepherd allowed us to move to a new place which the children call "Blue House" We stayed there for 15 months.
We invited some people living in Phuket to visit the Learning Centre at the dry-fish factory. Quintin (GB) and his friends came along and were inspired to help the children. To raise awareness, they came up with the idea to paddle around the island of Phuket. Through this, they hoped to bring sponsors to raise money to build the school.
It was close to the Blue House and near to where the children lived.
This blessing ceremony helped the children and teachers imagine how their future could be. By putting the "Wishing Coins" in the pillars, they hoped for a better future through a good education at their new school with many opportunities to follow.
Quintin, Richard, the architect and Sister Lakana gave their time every Saturday to meet and plan the building. Every week, they struggled to find enough money to progress.
The Blessing and Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by Bishop Prathan Sridarasil. Many people came, including Sr. Michelle, then East Asia Provincial Leader, Good Shepherd Sisters from different convents, benefactors and friends.
Regarding the name "The Mike Matthews Learning Centre for The Good Shepherd" the parents of Mike Matthews started the Mike Matthews Foundation in honour of their son Mike, who sadly died during an attempt to climb Mount Everest in the Himalayas. Mike Matthews was Johnnie and Pam's nephew and to remember him, we were pleased to include his name in our School name. They have been a great support to us.
Thanks to encouragement and support, we were able to prepare our students for enrollment to the Thai public school. 50 children have been integrated in the Thai public education system.
The generous donations and help of our Danish volunteer, Hanne, enabled us to have the opportunity to buy many books in English, Thai and Burmese language. We made the library cosy and welcoming for the children. We find it very important for the children to learn how to behave in the library and how to enjoy and care for the books. This has been a great success!
We are now officially recognised as a Burmese school through our collaboration with the Foundation for Education and Development. This is very important because our students are now able to continue their education in Myanmar, their home country if they return.