Every year as we walk down the approaching lane, we are a little nervous about how this year's visit will turn out. But as we go in, we immediately get that lovely warm feeling, seeing a surge of happy smiles appear on the children's faces as soon as they see us. They run over to us and we are ladden down with so many hugs. We are brought up stairs accompanied by all the children to the Sayadaw's room. At first we are all a little shy but then with our few words of Burmese, their basic english and lots of smiles, we once again feel like family. We are shown around proudly as they have done some work to the place by adding a new floor. It is so basic, only concrete and with a roof so low, that you can touch the ceiling with your hand. But they are happy, as there is a little more space for every one.
This year we spent 9 days with them. We could see that all 36 children are being well cared for. They are all growing up strong and all going to school. They live as one family and take care of each other.
During our visit they were given the use of a jeep by a local business man. With Raoul as the driver we organised 3 day-long excursions. We crammed as many children as possible into the jeep and brought them to the sea for the first time, which was so exhilirating. We explored temples located in caves and on hill tops with lots of wild monkeys, and stopped in places where they had children activites. On two occasions along the journeys we stopped to visit solitary monks who live a secluded life in the forest. One of them showed us tricks he had taught his cat. (See video for reference) They did not speak english but the peaceful energy from them is quite memorable still to this day.
Although it remains very basic, we are still very happy the way the place is run and with the improvements they have managed to make, especially regarding the sleeping facilities for the boys and girls. We can notice a definate improvement in the appearance of the children, due to a better diet. They still have the same 3 teachers who are very dedicated and loving to the children and quite a few of them are now attending the local high school.