When the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world, students and teachers were forced to adjust to a remote and digital environment. For some schools, these adjustments may have been a walk in the park as the funds needed for the transition were readily available.
Not for the Eden Valley Academy in Tak, Thailand.
Students and teachers found the transition challenging. Electricity in this far-flung region of Thailand is scarce and fluctuating. An internet connection is also difficult to get.
Located near the border with Myanmar, the academy also faces security concerns. Soldiers closely monitor the border for persons illegally crossing to find work in Chiang Mai, and a sense of fear and apprehension hangs over the school as the soldiers linger in the community.
“COVID-19 has threatened the school in the past two years,” school leaders said. “In recent months, several students and teachers were infected. However, the staff and faculty of the school learned various home remedies that helped alleviate the symptoms and eventually helped the patients to recover.”
Flooding and landslides are common occurrences here in this region, especially during the typhoon season. The school’s administration has determined that structural improvements are needed to strengthen the foundations of the buildings. There is also a need to erect new buildings to accommodate the academy’s growing population.
Despite all these challenges, the school remains steadfast, church leaders emphasized. “Like other schools, Eden Valley Academy is facing unprecedented financial and operational challenges at this time, but it is staying true to its commitment to giving Adventist Christian education to its students,” they said. “Above anything else, the school, together with its students, purposed to remain committed to its mission of sharing the gospel, especially during these troubled times.”
School leaders noted that a few months ago, the school organized a Bible study series that led to the baptism of 35 people. Some of the students baptized come from families that are from other faiths.
While internet access was a challenge, teachers turned to the manual production of modules for the students. “Eden Valley Academy has remained as a school where young minds could find understanding, peace, and hope,” school leaders said. “The Eden Valley Academy has learned to be resilient yet dependent on God as it navigates its way through the pandemic.”
Eden Valley Academy is a Seventh-day Adventist mission school established in 1984 by Helen M. Hall, an Australian missionary. It aims to provide quality Adventist education to refugees along the Thai-Burma border. It is now located in the Maela refugee camp and has about 1,000 students.