By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait
Alongside my regular private school teaching load, for the current two month periods I am teaching Sunday School to pre-teens from India and the Philippines.
So, it was a pleasure as a lifelong educator to find that this International Women’s Day (March 8) weekend, our Sunday Bible school class for Pre-Teens’ focus was first on two strong women found in the Old Testament:  Deborah, the prophetess and leader of ancient Israel and  Jael (Yael), the female assassin of Israel’s arch enemy, Sisera, whose Canaanite military forces had taken over and dominated Israel militarily in the 20 years prior to Deborah’s leadership.
Happily, at least one boy already knew the tale quite well, but sadly the majority of boys and girls in class here in Kuwait—as well as in the USA and around the world--don’t know the tale of Deborah, and how she also served as judge of Israel (as well as being famed as prophetess).
The second part of this weekend’s Sunday school lesson focused on Burma’s legendary female leader and Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The children in my Sunday school class learned from a handout prepared by DPI publications on Aung San Suu Kyi that this modern day heroine:
-was born in Burma and her name means “A Bright Collection of Strange Victories”.
-became fatherless at age 2 when her father, Aung San, hero of the War of Independence against the British Occupation, was assassinated in 1947
-was educated in India while her mother served as Ambassador there for Burma
-graduated from Oxford University with degrees in philosophy, politics and economy
-returned to Burma to serve her mother at her mother’s death bed around 1988
-was asked to help lead the Movement for change & democracy in Burma
-was the winner of elections in Burma but was immediately jailed for 6 years as the Burmese military oligarchs refused to give up their fascist power
-is a disciple of Ghandi’s non-violent principles and fasted on behalf of persecuted and tortured friends and supporters while under house arrest
-became in 1995 UNESCO’s special advisor on human rights.
I added, to my student’s amazement, that Aung San Suu Kyi is again under house arrest—and has been for most of the last two decades.
These young children whom I was teaching Sunday school to were simply astounded and asked. “How could she still be alive after all that time imprisoned?” they questioned.
“Well, I noted, she certainly must do exercises and eat right most of the time. She must also pray.” I answered.
As our lessons this month focus on “conviction and courage”, I asked the students what they thought Suu Kyi’s convictions are. Immediately, the children replied that Suu Kyi believed in freedom and felt she had to speak out against the military junta that was destroying her land and her peoples desire for freedom.
“Suu Kyi (Soo Chee) chose to stand up and fight for her convictions. The opportunity arose for Suu Kyi to live out the convictions she had learned in her family. Her father had died for those same convictions. What are some of the convictions that you have, and how do the people in your life see those convictions?”
Sobering thoughts for any people, eh?