Help me build schools in Burma
Organized by: Mimi Marquis
Htin and Florie Latt, my parents, went to a small village on the outskits of Monywa, in rural Burma, to visit Ashin Mahosadha Pandita, a highly regarded monk who had moved back. They found the people there, as with many Burmese people, to be extremely poor in belongings, but rich in spirit (they may have nothing, but will always offer you something to eat). While there, they discovered the children who live around the area have to walk or bicycle to schools located several miles away and local elders expressed having a school closer to home.
With my parents (who are comfortable in retirement but far from rich) donating 95% of the funds with the help of a friend, and my dad's sister putting in the remaining 5%, construction began in 2003. In May 2005, well before Oprah and without fanfare, publicity or her bank account, the school was officially opened.
The primary source of money to keep this school going is from donations that the monk receives from his sermons. Other sources are the continuing donations from my parents and sometimes us (their children, who are absorbed in our own lives). The 14 teachers who work here get substandard pays (about 50% of what they could make at a government run school) although they given the opportunity to live and eat at the monastery for free. Often the teachers aren't paid for months and even though they could earn steady money teaching in government run schools, they stay here.
When this school was originally built, there was room for 1st through 4th grades and 160 children were able to go to school for the first time closer to home. The school now has classes up to 7th grade and there are about 270 children enrolled. It desperately needs to expand (different classes are held in the same space as there was not enough funding initially to create more walls). More classrooms, more teachers also mean more funding.
Now, in my (early) 50's, I've decided I have to do some good - been thinking about it for a while (I mean years!!) - but it's time to stop thinking about it and just do it, as the saying goes. Even though I spend time and money trying to save the dolphins and mistreated/abandoned animals, and the environment, etc., I think I can REALLY make a difference here and it also satisfies my yearning to help the people of my home country of Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar). After seeing the ridiculousness of what people are donating to (like the guy who raised $10k to make potato salad), I really hope I can raise money for this worthy cause which is near and dear to my parents (and now, my) heart.
The money will be spent primarily on the school and teachers, but my husband and I would also like to go visit in person to see where else we could build more schools. Quote from my father: Education system in Burma is in a miserable if not deplorable state. I wish I could build more and more of them.
So please, can we see if we can make this happen? Thanks so much in advance.