Sid Mone Thwe
Sid Mone Thwe, S.A.W. School, Mae Sot
Sid Mone Thwe comes from Mon State, one of a family of ten children. At the age of eleven he followed one of his elder brothers and became a Buddist monk at a local rural monastery. At twenty, he travelled to Rangoon to study and learn about the outside world, but was disappointed to discover that the only teaching available to him as a monk was religious, so he was forced to study English in secret, hiding books inside religious texts to avoid detection. After much difficulty and years of studying this way, Sid Mone passed the entrance exam to a Buddist university in Mandalay. He studied there for three years, improved his English, learnt German, Japanese and philosophy, and graduated with a diploma in English and Buddism.
After seven years absence, Sid Mone Thwe went back to his home village and set up a school for local children, teaching them English, general knowledge and Buddism, supported only by food donations from local families. Like many graduates in Burma, he felt compelled to speak out against the SPDC and their policies, which brought him to the notice of the local authorities. He was told to stop discussing politics in public, but he ignored the warnings, confident he could continue teaching from jail if he were arrested. The harassment continued, growing to the extent that he realised that his family and his fellow monks might be in danger as well. At this point, Sid Mone Thwe began looking for other ways to help his people, and decided to leave the monastery, and Burma, all together. No longer a monk, Sid Mone Thwe worked his way to Mae Sot and was eventually accepted at the Social Action for Women (SAW) School as a teacher and counsellor, where he is now Deputy Principal.