Events of Monday 1st May 2017
The Clinic was strangely quiet on Monday morning with all the patients departed. Dr. Hla Tun had decided that, before we returned to Yangon, we would visit three village schools in the area, distributing exercise books, pencils, erasers and plastic rulers.
I joined the monk who supervises the Clinic, Doctor Hla Tun and some of the Clinic staff in the monastery 'Hi-Ace' people carrier and we visited three remote villages. But our first stop was at Nyaung Oo Long-Distance Bus Terminal.
Nyaung Oo Long-Distance Bus Terminal.
Whilst rail travel in Myanmar is cheap, at present it is slow and not very comfortable, so a network of modern, long-distance coaches provides a popular alternative, also supporting a thriving parcels business. Doctor Hla Tun had ordered the stationery we were to distribute from a supplier in Yangon and our call at the Bus Terminal was to collect a number of heavy parcels of stationery wrapped in sacking.
Picking up parcels of stationery at Nyaung Oo Long-Distance Bus Terminal.
We then travelled along the road to Kyaukpadaung, through a fertile plain with many Toddy Palms (my introduction to the Toddy Palm was in 2009, described in the post Mount Popa, Myanmar). Sections of the road are subject to seasonal flooding and it's normal for road repairs to be in progress to re-instate the surface. But on this trip, I noticed somewhat more major work in progress.
From Bagan Clinic to Htee Pu by road: Road improvements on the section subject to seasonal flooding.
We turned off the main road an continued across the hills in the direction of our first school, then turned onto the dirt track which led to Htee Pu village. Even the dirt track to the village was being improved. My first visit to Htee Pu was in 2009, described in the post Ti Pu Village (Romanisation of Myanmar words is a bit variable but the spelling 'Htee Pu' now seems most common). Since that first visit which induced me to become involved in educational support in Myanmar, I've been back to Htee Pu many times (I was involved in the opening of a new classroom in 2010, described here). The Head Monk is aware that his rather remote location makes it less likely that overseas travellers will visit Htee Pu, so he is especially appreciative of support. Although it was school holidays, most pupils were happy to attend school to receive the distribution. Only those with family commitments or long distances to travel were missing and we left sufficient materials to pass on to them.
A pavilion in the yard had been decorated for the occasion and willing hands unpacked the stationery.
After Dr. Hla Tun addressed the children, Jan said a few words of encouragement in English, which were translated by the Doctor. Then, with remarkable speed, the serious business of distributing the stationery was completed.
Distribution at Htee Pu (2017): After Dr. Hla Tun addressed the children, Jan said a few words of encouragement in English, which were translated by the Doctor.
Jan assisting with the stationery distribution.
Welcome refreshments had been laid on for the visitors but, with two more schools to visit, we were soon back on the road.
By the time we arrived at the second school, it was really hot. As a mark of respect to the visitors, two men from the village committee were tasked with holding umbrellas above Dr. Hla Tun and myself. I'm never very comfortable with this practice but acquiesced to avoid giving offence. Before long, the stationery had been unpacked and the first group of pupils lined up.
Before long, the stationery had been unpacked and the first group of pupils lined up.
Occasionally, children are unsure what they have to do. I try to appear unthreatening (but I don't know how successful that is). I happily chatter away in English but rely on handsignals to give guidance.
"And the Doctor will give you pencils, as well".
Once again, refreshments were provided before we boarded the 'Hi-Ace' again. A small tracked excavator was engaged in widening the unsurfaced track from the village, but it had not made sufficient progress to prevent us being held up for about five minutes following a slow-moving Chinese-built lorry. We finally reached a spot wide enough for us to pass, after which our speed was limited by the ruts in the track until we turned onto a surfaced road.
Our last school at Nga-Minn-May is also located at the end of a lengthy, unsurfaced track. I think my first visit was is 2012, described here, then I returned in 2013, described here, and again in 2016, described here. Once again, we were made very welcome by the village committee and the teaching staff. Despite it being a school holiday, there were many pupils waiting in the shade of a venerable tree.
Pupils waiting in the shade of a venerable tree.
Rulers, pencils and exercise books were given to all the children present and the remaining stationery was left for pupils not able to be present.
Rulers, pencils and exercise books were given to all the children present.
Then it was back to the Clinic for a meal and a rest before the Doctor and I were driven to Nyaung Oo airport to catch evening flights back to Yangon. This time, rather than staying at Doctor Hla Tun's home, I was driven to the Belmond Governor's Residence Hotel. Eddie Teh had invited me to stay there and make use of the fast internet connection to allow me to upload some of the many pictures I'd taken since my arrival in Myanmar.
Related Posts on this Website
Next Post describing this trip.
All 2017 Trip posts.
Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-
From Bagan Clinic to Htee Pu by road.
Distribution at Htee Pu (2017).
Distribution at Bagan School (2017-2).
Distribution at Nga-Minn-May School (2017-3).
All my albums for Burma 2017.
[Text and pictures added: 31-Aug-2017]