By Chisa Atthipornwattana
Than Lo is one of Right To Play's volunteer Coaches in Mae La camp, the largest refugee camp on the Thailand Burma border and home to over 40,000 refugees. Due to political conflict and economic hardship, he fled Burma for Thailand when he was seven, accompanied only by his eldest brother, who was 12.
Than Lo lived in Mae La for 11 years. With limited space in the camp, he was often looking for extra-curricular activities where he could happily spend his free time. Refugees were not allowed to leave the camp and had limited access to opportunities and basic social services.
The young boy first discovered Right To Play through his friends, noticing first-hand the changes in behaviour of those that participated in the program: some of them had greater confidence, while others had even shown improved leadership skills.
Having a keen interest in sports, Than Lo began participating in Right To Play's sport training program – a win-win scenario as he was able to spend more time with his friends while staying active on a regular basis.
When Than Lo graduated from high school, there was no question. He approached Right To Play's field office and told them he wanted to be a Coach.
He has since participated in more leadership training and has improved in both his sport and life skills.
He now leads the same activities with children in the camp that he had been participating in as a child.
Than Lo firmly believes that a volunteer Coach is the bridge that links other children to more constructive activities in the camp. Many kids are thoroughly engaged in Right To Play games and spend their free time wisely, while boredom and tension have decreased.
Than Lo has expressed his commitment to his community through volunteering with Right To Play and being a positive role model for children in the Mae La camp.