Placed on a picturesque and natural flat area on the Burmese side of the hills surrounding the Moei River Valley, Je Poe Kee village was by several occasions attacked by the Burmese Army and finally left abandoned. It does not take long for nature in the tropics to take over, so for years the remedies of the village was hidden in the dense jungle. In 2008, a few people decided to give it a try and moved back. Among them the headmaster who started Gaw La Heh Primaryschool as the center of the reconstruction. In 2009 the village was attacked again and the school burned down, but everyone survived and the school was rebuilt on the edge of the village, overlooking the valley.
Since then the school has grown and established itself as a popular school among children from a bigger area. By 2016 the school was hosting approximately 200 children divided in 7 classes from kindergarten to level 6, all sharing one classroom. Of these, approximately 100 was residing in the dormitories.
We have followed the school for years and it has proven to be a well-run and locally anchored school that appears to develop in a good direction. They are using KED`s (Karen Education Departments) curriculum and gets support from them and KYO (Karen Youth Organization). Even with teachers’ salaries down to a few hundred baht’s pr month (2016), the support is hardly enough to cover the running costs of the school. With a skilled headmaster, good teamwork and support within the village, they do however manage to get a lot out of the sparse funds and resources they have.
It was also a positive factor for our involvement that the village already had an adobe building, designed and built by Saw Rocky and the people at Pun Pun Farm (www.punpunthailand.org) where we first learned how to make adobe back in 2009.
In a village like Je Po Kee, the villagers are dependent on having time to harvest from the jungle for food. Life here also requires a lot more physical labor to keep houses safe and waterproof. To be able to keep the villagers involved, and also not give too much at the same time, we divided the construction into three phases, completing one each year from 2016.