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Changes in Myanmar

Dec 06, 2013

Hello Everyone,

We are here in Myanmar after a rather hectic preparation to get organized to leave home followed by a few days rest in Bangkok, Thailand. Thanks for  your great farewell wishes. 

Coming to Myanmar never fails to be interesting. Close to ten years ago when we first came to Myanmar to assist a doctor in the far north, near the Chinese border, we remember how the thump of the passport stamp felt and sounded like the closing of a vault door. Once you were inside the country you had the feeling and rightly so, that you were very cut off from the outside world. There was minimal internet which was highly monitored, every dollar you spent was recorded by the serial number (numerous copies) and the MI or military intelligence always seemed to be close by watching when we were doing our work at the clinic up in Mytinka. You would never mention the name of Aung San Suu Kyi in public for fear of endangering someone. The streets of Yangon were almost deserted and cars were few, old and far between, and the only way to enter the country was by air via Yangon.


Scroll ahead ten years, especially the last couple and the doors for the most part have been flung open; visas are easy to get and four overland border crossings have recently opened. The regime that had the country in an iron fisted grip for over 50 years has resulted in a country left in tatters with abysmal healthcare, education and crumbling infrastructure. The fist has turned into an open hand that is welcoming business contracts resulting in rampant inflation in rents, land and accommodation to name a few of the problems in the capital city of Yangon. The once peaceful and walkable streets are now clogged with cars and getting around anywhere during the daytime involves sitting in virtual gridlock traffic for hours or taking your life in your hands crossing the street. Sadly the prosperity is reserved for a few and for the average person life is still a struggle. Although there are many issues facing this kind of growth so quickly there is also a feeling of freedom and optimism for the future. The people for the most part are lovely, warm, helpful and it is not hard to fall in love with their smiles.


Last year we connected and helped a small school located in a monastery on the outskirts of Yangon. There are 96 students from very poor families who attend the school that operates on a shoestring to say the least. The school is very basic with small benches as desks, black boards and the children sit on the floor to do their work. The school is built on top of a landfill so they have no well and must purchase drinking water for which there was no budget. As is often the case the teacher, who makes $50.00 USD per month, has been stepping up and paying the $10 a month cost of drinking water out of her own salary at great sacrifice to her own family. We arranged to pay for the water for the rest of the school year and until we return. KIDS also purchased books, pencils etc to tide them over for a while and provided funding to keep the children equipped with school supplies, uniforms and a snack during their school day.



Our next trip was to another school and boarding house about 2 hours drive outside of Yangon. The school/boarding house takes the oldest child from very poor families in the surrounding countryside and provides room and board and education in hopes that the educated child will be able to assist the family financially in the future. One of the issues at this school was water, in this case the school had a well but the water was very turbid and not good for drinking. We purchased a water filtration system in Yangon and brought it to the boarding house where it will be installed and will take care of the issues surrounding the lack of potable water. They had an interesting room in the boarding house they called the learning corner where kids rotated through the room doing different activities such as art, reading and speaking English to one another. The children are very keen to learn computer skills, as it will help them in the future but the designated computer corner was lacking a computer as they did not have the resources for one. It will not be vacant for long as we have arranged for a computer to be purchased and installed in the computer corner, the children were thrilled. The children study long hours at school and at the boarding house as they know this is a chance of a lifetime. Their life is simple and they sleep on the floor in rows in two separate dormitories, one for girls and one for boys. All their meagre belongings can fit in one small box however they are very happy to learn and are appreciative of the opportunity and support they are receiving.


Below we have copied a hand written motto that is on the wall in the learning corner room. We were impressed with the Boarding House's vision of education. We have also attached a few pictures two of the monastery school and of the boarding house accommodations.


Learning corner is designed and based on the concept of multiple intelligence, independent learning and catering to 

the different needs of a child through conversation, reading , writing, listening , thinking, creating and vocabulary building. 

The aim of the learning corner is to nurture children to become an independent learner.



We will fill you in on the rest of the projects in Yangon soon.


All the best and bye for now

Rick and Adrianne

Kids International Development Society


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