The programme for guests allowed for viewing the Offering of Alms at the local monastery followed by a river trip to Mingun in a motor boat. After lunch, guests were offered a trip to Mandalay City or Sagaing, depending upon the group they were travelling with. I attended the Offering of Alms to the monks, because I always find this inspiring but afterwards Doctor Hla Tun had arranged a different programme for me for the rest of the day. Once again, we were pleased that Captain Myo Lwin was able to come with us.
The Captain, the Doctor and I travelled the 40-odd miles to Maymyo in a very comfortable car, distributing stationery and donations at three Orphanages.
(1) Thukha Myittar Boys' Orphanage
This small boys' orphanage has been open for less than a year and is run by a retired headmaster, U Phone Myint Aung. It is located directly on the road to Maymyo, about 24 miles from Mandalay, very near the newly-opened 'I.T. City'. The 'I.T. City' trains young people in computing and a 'technology park' of manufacturers is being established.
There are currently 58 boys at the orphanage but when we visited they were all away at school for the day, apart from the two youngest orphans who are not yet of school age (5 years old in Myanmar). Boys between the ages of 2 and 8 who have lost one or both parents are accepted and they are currently all from the Pa-O tribe in Shan State. The sprightly 70-year old founder is assisted by six staff. The small site is divided by a stream providing clean water and the dirt playground has been marked out for football and provided with rustic goal posts. Building work was in progress when we were there, repairing the site boundary walls.
More pictures here.
(2) Doe Pin Boys' Orphanage
I'd visited Doe Pin before in September 2009 when the orphanage was home to over 500 boys (earlier report). It now caters for 1,015 boys! Class rooms on site extend teaching to Grade 8 - beyond Grade 8, suitable pupils can attend a Government School We were there during the lunch hour, when all the boys on site assembled in the large hall for the rather basic meal of steamed rice with a small portion of soya bean paste and a little vegetable soup.
We made donations to the monk in the assembly hall before making a tour of the site. During the tour, we met the irrepressible Head Monk and Founder, U Pan Na Wa, still laughing and surrounded by a group of young children.Boys quietly awaiting lunch in the Assembly Hall.
More pictures here.
We carried on to Maymyo, used by the British as a Hill Station and with a number of very English-looking properties. There's more about the town in an earlier post. On my latest visit, we stopped for a very pleasant lunch on the outskirts of the town before locating the Girls' Orphanage we'd come to see.
(3) Shwe Sin Minn Girls' Orphanage
Two nuns founded the orphanage in 1999 and they currently look after 335 orphans or single-parent girls from poor families from various tribes. At present, the girls go off-site for school but a major building programme is almost complete which will allow teaching up to Grade 7 to be carried out in the Nunnery Compound.
Some of the girls become nuns, just as some of the boys at Doe Pin become monks. The discipline for both nuns and monks allows no food to be taken after 12 noon so one criterion is how well a child can tolerate a life of breakfast and lunch alone.
More pictures here.
As we toured the new building works, the girls started to return to the Nunnery Compound. We made our farewells very impressed by the energy and dedication of the two nuns, we made our way back to the town centre and took refreshments in a rather up-market tea room. We finally made a tour of the large market at Maymyo. There is a dry-goods market with a bewildering array of mainly Chinese items and a wet market of mainly locally-produced food. It was then time to make the fairly long journey back to the 'Road to Mandalay' after a tiring but very educational day.