After a relaxing night, we took breakfast in the hotel's restaurant before a pick-up truck loaned by Care Myanmar and driver collected us to drive to Hlaing, situated in a poor area of Mawlamyine. Around four hundred children were waiting for us.
Late arrivals were still being registered at a series of desks set up on the open land adjacent to the Drop In Centre and being given a bottle of orange drink and a piece of cake together with the all-important voucher which would be collected immediately prior to their receiving the donated items. Two television news cameramen were operating around the site, one from Sky Net, one from MTV.
Doctor Hla Tun and I made a small number of special awards inside the Drop In Centre before moving outside where the children were seated on the ground beneath a series of portable, folding shelters facing a simple 'stage' made by placing a number of benches together. A banner at the back of the stage named the donors in English and Myanmar language.
The stage was a sea of over four hundred bright yellow plastic carrier bags, each containing a single distribution. Each bag was marked in felt tip to indicate, for instance, whether it was intended for a boy or a girl.
There was a sound system with a radio microphone which Doctor Hla Tun used to introduce the 'Road to Mandalay' ship and the educational support work carried out. Then I was asked to make a little speech which the Doctor translated, before the serious business of distributing the new uniforms and stationery in the yellow plastic bags.
Doctor Hla Tun talks about the 'Road to Mandalay' ship and the educational support work carried out.
One assistant collected the vouchers as each child game up, sometimes requiring a hunt in the bag containing the cake and drink before it was located. Other staff clambered around the stage looking for the appropriate type of yellow bag which was then handed to me to present to the child.
Hlaing Drop In Centre - 2017.
Mistakes were occasionally made in identifying the correct type of bag for a child, particularly with girls with short-cropped hair and shorts. Then the cry would go up from the voucher collector, in Myanmar language, "Boy, Boy!" or 'Girl, Girl!". I even learnt the words myself and joined in the shout although I forgot them immediately the presentation was done.
Many, many photographs were taken: members of staff of the Drop In Centre each wanted their personal record on camera or mobile phone. This was a very special once-a-year event for both the staff and children involved.
Once the children were wearing their new uniforms, sometimes over their everyday clothes, a series of pictures of the whole group was taken.
Hlaing Drop In Centre - 2017: Group photograph.
As the happy children departed, we returned to the Drop In Centre and Doctor Hla Tun addressed all the staff.
Then, it was back to our hotel. Whilst Doctor Hla Tun's mother was preparing to leave, the helpful Care Myanmar manager who'd assisted us, the Doctor and I went to a nearby teashop for discussions.
Teashop near our hotel.
When we finally checked-out of the hotel, the friendly porter insisted on taking our photographs in front of two detailed wooden models of bullock carts displayed by the hotel.
We were then driven to the Mawlamyine offices of the Care Myanmar charity - not the rather cramped offices I'd visited in previous years but a much larger, modern property necessitated by the number of projects being handled. In addition to the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) project there are projects to develop rubber-growing and combat Human Trafficking.
Care Myanmar Offices, Mawlamyine.
One ground floor entrance was for the 'Finance and Admin & Logistics Team' another 'Global Fund'. After a brief wait, the pick up then drove us to the Shwe Zee Kyet restaurant - a large, upmarket, rather Western version of the tea shop with a sound system playing pop music. There were few diners whilst we took our lunch but I imagine it becomes crowded in the evening: Myanmar people seem inherently sociable.
Shwe Zee Kyet restaurant.
Back at the Care Myanmar offices, the Doctor's Mother and I were invited to rest in a separate, upstairs bedroom. I assume that this bedroom was intended for visiting foreigners for, in addition to the usual sleeping mats, there was one mattress two inches thick, air conditioning and an en-suite shower with Western-style toilet.
I enjoyed resting here before we carried out our final distribution in Mon State at the Shwe Myaing Thiri Drop In Centre. Once again, we had seen many of the staff and children on previous visits. After Doctor Hla Tun addressed the children, I was required to add my words of explanation and encouragement. The donated items are tailored to the needed of each Drop In Centre (within the constraints of a limited budget) so here the children received both uniforms and umbrella, proudly displayed for the 'group shot'.
We were able to return to the Care Myanmar offices for more relaxation, with the inevitable visit on the way to a surprisingly-clean teashop.
Our work complete, the pick-up truck was loaded with our luggage for the final time. We made visits to the three most famous pagodas in Mawlamyine before stopping at another restaurant for a farewell dinner with two of our friends from Care Myanmar. There was just time to drive to the PTT offices to load our luggage and board the 10 p.m. bus to Yangon, with one restaurant stop near Kyaikto. I still didn't exactly enjoy the ride but seven and a half hours was decidedly less demanding than the thirteen and a half hour ride it had taken to reach Dawei on the way south.
We had made distributions to 1,282 children in Mon State, as follows:-
Yaye Township 422 children in total atRelated Posts on this Website
La Mine 45 children
Ko Dut 329 children
Mok Ka Nin 48 children
Mudon Township 258 children in total at
Ka Mar Wet 37 children
Mudon 142 children
Kot Kha Pon 79 children
Mawlamyine Township 602 children in total at
Hlaing 427 children
Shwe Myaing Thiri 175 children
Next post describing this trip.
All 2017 Trip posts.
Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-
Kaung Myat Hotel, Mawlamyine.
Hlaing Drop In Centre - 2017.
Around Mawlamyine - 2017.
Care Myanmar Offices, Mawlamyine.
Shwe Myaing Thin Drop In Centre - 2017.
[Pictures added to text 19-Jul-2017]