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Veteran Adventist Educator Honored for Work in Troubled Karen Region

Bangkok, Thailand ... [ANN]

Australian Helen Hall was honored for excellence in education on November 29 by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Education Department.  Hall has lived and taught for the last 18 years in the refugee camps and villages of the Karen people on the Thai-Burmese border.  She has helped establish two Adventist schools, Eden Valley Academy in Thailand and Karen Adventist Academy in Burma, which continue to provide education for hundreds of Karen children.

In presenting the General Conference Award of Excellence, Dr. Stephen Guptill, Adventist education director for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, commended Hall for her 40 years of work in education and for her persistence in the face of overwhelming difficulties, including natural disasters, war and poverty.

Hall, who taught in Victoria, Australia, for 22 years before starting her work among the Karen people, says her life was changed by a 1977 trip to Asia where she saw first-hand the poverty and hopelessness of many of the children.
“It’s my pleasure to be here,” says Hall.  “People have told me I’m crazy for living and working here, but I’ve never regretted it.  This is where God wants me to be.”

Hall cites the on-going border conflict between Thailand and Burma as one of the greatest challenges to her work.  “We’ve had to move and rebuild the school seven times to escape fighting,” says Hall.  “Where possible, we salvaged what we could from the old building and then had to hand-carry everything to a new location.”

The difficulties of her work are outweighed by the rewards, says Hall, the greatest of which is “seeing the young people grow and develop.”  She points out that of the 30 faculty members of the Eden Valley Academy, all but four began their education at the school.

Although Hall, aged 60 years, has officially retired, she continues to live and teach as a volunteer at Eden Valley Academy.  She has no firm plans to return to her Australian home in the near future. 
“It’s in God’s hands,” she says. “There’s too much to do here.”  [SPD Record/ANN Staff]