Thursday, October 8, 2015

2323. Myanmar travels - Hinthada - primary school

Sep 10, 2015
Room 205, Hotel Royal Golden View, Myanmar


I checked in late at night after a long drive from Hinthada to Yangon from 1 pm to 9 pm. The sole driver Dr Thein Tun Aung was very sleepy and so we had a few stops rather than encounter an accident. I had a chance to video a riverside village while he had a 30-minute nap inside the car. A chance to appreciate the village way of life. (Video).



August to October, in Buddhism  are the months of donations in Myanmar. Benefactors will offer alms to monks and nuns during this period. There are two towns where the practice is performed. One in Hinthada and the other in North Myanmar.

From Oct 5 - 10, I was in Myanmar and got an opportunity to witness and understand this practice in Hinthada by participating in Dr Thin Thin Soe's 25th donation to the Myint Kway Monastery. I offered to present exercise books and pencils to a Government Primary School via Dr Soe. She contacted the Head monk who made the arrangements. The monks play a significant role in the community and they do help out the very poor children to be educated. If benefactors want to donate to the school, it is best to contact the Head Monk or collaborate with a local organization rather than giving money.

The headmaster said that a water tank was more pressing need to give the children filtered clean drinking water instead. Dr Soe got my permission and so that was how a water tank was presented.

I prefer to remain anonymous as it was such a small gift but August to October are the months of donations in Myanmar. The school had requested a water storage tank instead of my proposed books and pencils for the primary school children. As I was visiting Hinthada to witness Dr Soe's donations of food and rice to 2,700 monks, I was asked to be present in this school.  









The school was re-built with private donations. It would be the typical old one with zinc roofs and sandy floors. Now it has concrete floors with 165 school children from Grade 1 to Grade 6, all housed in one building and having lessons next to each other. These are chhildren from the surrounding villages. The head monk said some words and the children repeated after him. Only one child in Grade 1 was indifferent and did not stand up. She just remained seated. After the recitals, the donors including me were asked to distribute 2 exercise books and a packet of soft drinks to the 165 children.










At the end of the presentation, I noticed that this girl who remained seated was crying her heart out, with her face on her desk. I asked what happened.  "She's has some mental problems and so the teachers did not present her the two exercise books," Dr Soe said.

Due to practicality and a shortage of funds to buy exercise books, the teachers would rather keep the 2 exercise books for the other normal children.

Illiteracy and poverty are bed fellows in many villages and exercise books are a premium. I persuaded the teacher to give this little girl the two exercise books but her tears would not stop flowing. This was a sad ending for me. I was the one who wanted to donate books to all children and for practicality, this little girl did not get her present.       




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