It is traditional in Myanmar for Buddhist monasteries to double as schools for underprivileged children. Monastic education is equalized with formal education of state schools. Some of them offer refuge and shelter to the poorest and most marginalized children, sent from far away to be taken care of. Many of these monastic schools lack funding and resources to cover education costs, teacher salaries, nutrition or health care.
OUR HELP AT MINGALAR THEIKDI NUNNERY SCHOOL
The Mingalar Theikdi nunnery in South Dagon (suburb of Yangon) is home to 60 destitute girls, partly orphans. They come from marginalized communities in remote and neglected regions and most have been sent away by their parents due to poverty. The girls receive a formal education and shelter at the monastery. SSO assists and provides close support to the nunnery and its girls. Before our support the girls were in a very poor health due to a chronic lack of resources and funds, including food and medicine.
Support is given in a variety of ways such as health care, nutrition, hygiene, toiletries, bedding, clothing, etc. Importantly, the girls have regular check-ups; malnutrition, coughs, mild fever, skin conditions and mild infections can be treated on-site. For more serious or urgent conditions that require hospital treatment or even operation, of which we take care of within our medical emergency fund at hand.
In the last three years we extended the building in order to give the children more space to sleep, built new toilets and safe water facilities and renovated the kitchen building including all equipment to guarantee hygienic cooking. Layering the ground outside made it possible that the children now can play sports on the monastery ground.
EDUCATION SUPPORT FOR THE AYEYARWADDY DEVISION
This school and a child sponsorship project in a remote village enables the children of the extremely impoverished rural population access to education and considerably improves their future prospects.
Together with SONNE-International, SSO has been supporting since 2008 this monastic school in the village Nga Pyaw Kyaun in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta. The region was badly hit by a severe cyclone in 2008 and the village was fully destroyed. At this time, SONNE-International collected funds in Austria and erected together with SSO a new school building to house the middle school of the village monastic school. From then on education support is ongoing, as the village has still not fully recovered from its catastrophe; health and hygiene problems are ongoing. Most villagers are subsistence farmers and day laborers, living in extreme poverty and with a hand-to-mouth existence. It is only through education that these young people can have a chance of escaping this misery and building a secure life for themselves.
We set up an emergency medical fund to provide the approximately 420 school children with regular and reliable medical care and health monitoring and to assist with costly treatments, operations and hospital bills. Additionally, we contribute by providing school materials which the families can’t afford and pay the teacher’s salaries in order to avoid fees for students. The village’s children all take part in the sport project, which offers weekly free training and access to sports material.