1) The story of “Be Good to Each Other: The Rest Comes Easy”
“Be Good to Each Other: The Rest Comes Easy” was written by an advocate and local artist on the Thailand/Burma (Myanmar) border. You can receive a free copy of this lovely book if you firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31, 2017.
It tells the story of refugees from Burma, who escape on foot through the jungle, while playing “hide and seek” from “bad people.” The family arrives in Mae Sot (“MAY-soht”), a town on the Thailand/Burma border where refugees can live in relative safety. Thailand is home to an estimated one million refugees and migrants from Burma, many of whom fled the country’s civil conflicts like the story book family. For over sixty years, government forces and ethnic militias have fought each other in Burma over issues of independence as well as access to key resources like timber, gems, and hydroelectric power. Innocent villagers caught in the conflicts’ spiraling violence have faced land expropriation, forced labor, mass rape, land mines, and killings.
Refugees from Burma are unique in that they come from many different ethnic groups and religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. “Be Good to Each Other: The Rest Comes Easy,” specifically mentions different faiths living in harmony in Thailand, the new country where the children in the story are safe. The characters in the story hear the sounds of the wat (Buddhist temple), mosque (Muslim place of worship) and church. They see Buddhist monks, and celebrate Loi Kratong, a traditional full moon festival that people all over the region – of all religions – take part in.
Significantly, Thailand is not able to accommodate all of those who fled Burma’s wars, and many refugees from Burma have been recently resettled to third countries, including the United States. South Dakota even has communities of Karen (kah-REN) refugees, a minority group from Burma. Many Karen are Christian and many are Buddhist. In fact the largest group of refugees resettled in South Dakota between 2002 and 2015 is from Burma.
2) Questions to Ask/Things to Point Out While Reading this Book
- Where do the children in the book live? Does it look like SD? What is the same? What is different?
- The children have to leave their homes when bad people come. How would you feel if you had to leave your home because it wasn’t safe? Do you think you could carry all of your things if you had to walk away? Do you think these children were able to carry all their belongings as they walked through the jungle?
- Have you ever moved somewhere new? How did you feel? Were people friendly to you?
- The children hear sounds from the wat (Buddhist temple), the mosque (a Muslim place of worship) and the church. What kinds of sounds do you think they hear? What do you think people do in those buildings?
- The children and their neighbors feast together with food from the market. Do you ever share food to celebrate with your friends and family? What kinds of food do you share? Where do you buy your food?
- On the last page, the children learn the same lesson in school, “Be Good to Each Other.” Is there anyone who is new or different in your school or community who needs to see a friendly face or know that people will be good to them?
3) Activities to Connect with “Be Good to Each Other”
- An easy activity with this coloring book is to copy pages for children to color back in their seats after the sermon.
- You could introduce/eat food from Burma including mangoes (or dried mangoes), or limeade (recipes for homemade limeade easily found online), or sweetened sticky rice (recipes also available online).
- The children in the story launch small float boats burning incense on Loi Kratong, a traditional water festival that is celebrated by many religions. You could burn incense (if that doesn’t bother people with allergies) and ask children what they smell/think of when they close their eyes and imagine the scene in the book. You could also ask them if there are holidays when they have specific things they smell or light (like jack-o-lanterns on Halloween, or firecrackers on the 4th of July).