The Marist Mission Centre supports four boarding hostels in Maela, Maera Moo and Maela Oon Refugee Camps, on the Thai-Burma border of north-western Thailand.

These camps are home to over 80,000 refugees from inside Burma, most of whom are Karen or other ethnic minorities, forced to flee from their land to avoid the violence of the Burmese military dictatorship.

According to the Karen Refugee Committee report of April 2010, there are 49,080 refugees in Maela Refugee Camp, 18,996 in Maera Moo Refugee Camp and 16,714 in Maela Oon Refugee camp.

Mae La camp is located eight kilometres from the Thai-Burma border and is the largest of 13 similar refugee camps.

It was established in 1984 and is home to an entire generation of people in their 20s who have lived their whole lives in refugee camps.

Maera Moo (established 1995) is slightly further north, in a remote jungle valley about 4 kilometres from the border.

Maela Oon (established 2003-2004) is close by, a mere 2 kilometres from the border.

A Marist Mission Centre Hostel was established at Maera Moo in 1999 to provide a safe haven for 60 children from inside Burma. Many of them were orphans or had lost at least one parent through military violence or disease.

Food for the students in the hostels is supplied by each camp, but supplemented with MMC help. Clothing, medicines and educational costs are met by the project.The students attend school at primary and secondary schools (to grade ten) in the camp.

Older students may attend “Post-Ten” programmes, for example leadership training courses, personal development courses, vocational skills training, etc.

Since 2009, several students from the Karen Marist Mission hostels have been enrolled in a diploma course through the Australian Catholic University.

Evening study is helped through light power from the hostel generator.

This has enabled the development of computer skills in this jungle setting. Students are encouraged to develop their talents and pursue a range of personal interests.

The Marist Mission Centre’s scholarship programme encourages them to develop skills in music, art and English language. The programme requires them to share their skills with other students.