Already March 2018 and we are making plans for this summer’s return to Myanmar. But let me write to you about our 2017 trip first.
July 2017. 10 years on…. and our visits take on a similar rhythm. Beginning in Yangon, we experiment with staying at a downtown hotel and are disappointed by the absence of anywhere decent to eat. Yangon is as rundown a city as ever and on our return from the orphanage we retuned to our homey suburban guesthouse.
Before heading to Myanmar we stopped to visit our daughter in London and went to a big LEGO shop. This was a super success with the children as everyone could create. There was no language barrier or special technique needed to enjoy it.
There were quite a few new little ones. As the years go by, some children move on and new ones continue to arrive. The ones that used to be ‘the babies’ in the group are older and learn about the cooking, cleaning, general chores, and helping the youngest newcomers become part of ‘the family’. We observe how beautiful and loving they are and it feels fantastic to be helping them.
With the stability gained from our annual financial aid, this year Sayadaw had decided to discontinue their own primary school in favour of sending all the children out to the neighborhood school. We feel this was a great decision as it helps the children integrate better into the community. We noticed how the girls in particular are thriving from school studies. Quite a few of the boys had moved on to either work at rice farming, or pursue monastic life. We encourage everyone to learn English but they remain uninspired and understandably so. The town is so cut off from the 21st century and has few foreign visitors .
We spend every day with the children. If it is a weekend, we take them out on excursions . We squeeze 19 of us like sardines into the vehicle and go for long drives to caves and parks. In the afternoons after school, we take them for walks up into the hills to visit Pagodas and to play football in the park.
On one of our ‘educational ‘excursions, we stopped at a brand new shopping centre, the town’s first. None of them had ever seen an indoor car park, a supermarket, a department store, used an escalator or ‘modern’ public toilets. Only because they were in our company did they have the courage to enter this place.
This year we stayed in a brand new hotel where they had yet to display “rules” such as…“No Visitors” etc… So one morning we bought about 10 of them to see the grounds and also took 4 of them to visit our bedroom. It was amazing to observe. We felt like they were visiting a set from a soap opera. Much to the dismay of the housekeepers who were cleaning our room at the time, the children could not hold back from jumping on our bed. They were seeing a modern bedroom and bed for the first time.
In agreement with Sayadaw (the Monk in charge), we have decided to continue to share a portion of the money we collect to help a little primary school he built from bamboo in the rice fields. We also give the children daily lunch as it is located in an extremely poor and remote region ,(where all the orphans originate from).
We always love our trips to visit the children. We become closer to them every year and miss the ones who move on. We get to understand their culture better and learn many things ourselves. We would like to remind you all that if ever you are visiting South East Asia, you should consider a trip to Moulmein to visit the children.
They continue to live a very simple lifestyle. They are growing up in security, with a healthy diet and an education. Thank you all for your continued support that makes all of this possible.
Lots of love, Mary Pat & Raoul