Many poor families in Thailand are not able to send their daughters to school. As a result, young girls are too often employed in degrading occupations putting them at risk of abuse, AIDS, exploitation, and addiction.
One school is growing rapidly because of its ability to help provide education to this at-risk segment of Thailand’s population.
Dhammajarine e Witthaya Free School provides kindergarten through 12th grade education to more than 400 girls who otherwise would have no opportunity to go to school.
Several years ago the Buddhist nuns in charge of the school began integrating the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique and advanced TM programs into the school’s curriculum.
As you can see in the video below, Dhammajarinee Witthaya is a model school. By providing a rigorous, modern academic curriculum along with Buddhist education, the school helps girls to not only lead a better life, but to become the future leaders of their communities.
EXCERPTS FROM THE VIDEO:
Acharn Yai, Director/Principal of the Dhammajarinee Witthaya School:
“In Thailand we have many girls who lack opportunity for proper education. So the nuns have founded Dhammajarinee Witthaya School to help girls who lack the opportunity to have an equal education.
“These girls come from different provinces from all over Thailand. They come from poor families, broken homes or are orphans. Some have been violently abused or at risk of being sexually abused. The school provides all students with free education. Everything is free: clothing, personal items, school supplies. We currently have 430 students enrolled.
“Dhammajarinee Witthaya School is the first and only Buddhist boarding school in Thailand. We provide education according to the standard curriculum along with this we also provide life-skills training and Dharma studies (Buddhist teachings) up to the highest level to culture their ethics.”
Kru Muay, a teacher:
“Our school in the first school in Thailand that incorporates the TM technique to culture the students’ ethical values. The students in this school learn TM at the beginning of the semester when the new students arrive. Coming from different places their behavior was quite aggressive and they didn’t pay attention to their studies that much, but after we introduced TM and after they started practicing, I feel that now some students are more settled and some pay more attention to their studies.
“Because students have different educational backgrounds we cannot expect them to change overnight. It’s something that needs time, but observing their progress since they have started meditating I can see that they have greatly improved in different ways in their behavior, in their studies and in their relationship with the teachers and their fellow students.”
Kru Maew, a teacher:
“Since TM was introduced, the girls are calmer and more disciplined. But the fact that they’re more disciplined doesn’t mean that they have to be quiet. The students are actually livelier than before. In class the girls are more involved in participating in class discussions and they seem to grasp the knowledge faster.”
Acharn Yai, Principal:
“(With TM practice) it becomes much easier to deal with them. Their aggressive behavior decreases, their grades go up; they pay more attention to whatever we teach them. When they have inner happiness, they soak up whatever knowledge we give, unlike before.
“Before we introduced TM, we hardly sent students for competitions anywhere because we felt that there were not ready. After TM, wherever we send them they come back with an award. In the national memory competition we’re very proud to say that our student won first place. When the reporter asked about her winning she said that she won because she meditates regularly.”
“Before meditating I felt so stressed by everything,” says one student. “I was stressed with my friends, with my studies and with the teachers who disciplined me. But when I meditate, I feel some relief. It reduces my stress level. It makes me forget and feel relief and this gives me self-confidence.”
“Since I have been meditating regularly, morning and evening, I’ve been paying more attention to the teachers and I understand the knowledge better.”
“Before I learned TM I was a good-for-nothing, pretty much! Meditation has broadened my thinking, increased my self-confidence and now I’m more diligent.”
“Back home I was a hot-tempered person but since I learned TM in this school I feel a lot calmer. I feel that I am happier and my learning ability is better. I feel that I am happy all day.”
“When I practice TM I feel so happy! My parents comment all the time that my face looks so radiant.”
“Before learning to meditate I felt frustrated and didn’t want to do anything. But when I close my eyes to meditate, my frustration decreases, my irritation subsides and I feel good. When I study, I can focus on my studies more. For example, at the chanting competition I had more self-confidence and I was able to focus.”
Expansion is needed
The number of girls now wishing to attend Dhammajarinee Witthaya Free School far exceeds the classrooms available. There is an urgent need to build new school buildings to allow more of these girls to have the chance for a better life.
Donations are needed for a new building that would allow for approximately 500 more girls to attend the Dhammajarinee Witthaya Free School. The goal is to create a group of at least 800 students doing group practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique everyday to generate a powerful influence of positivity and peace for the school and for the nation.
The expansion of this remarkable school will not only have a life-changing impact on the hundreds of girls who graduate from the school every year. It will also provide a powerful model for how to expand and significantly improve education throughout Southeast Asia.
For more information: www.BuddhistGirls.org
Or contact: ThaiNuns@hotmail.com
Stephanie Finamore is a meditator who lives in Middletown, Maryland and is a volunteer at the Washington DC/Bethesda TM Center
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