CHILDREN OF MYANMARA shortwhile after gaining its independence from Britain in 1948, Myanmar fall into an abyss of internal conflicts, insurgencies and civil wars that crippled the country in every way. After 69 long years of unrest, once the most prosperous country in it’s region, Myanmar is now listed as one of the least developed countries in the world. But the ordinary people of Myanmar is also famous for their kindness, generosity and their bright spirit. So the life still blossoms in here, even after decades of conflict and war. But not without consequences... Children are often seperated from their parents either because of the civil war, or simply their families are too poor to provide them with proper education. There are also a lot of orphans staying in communal shelters, simply trying to survive another day. These are the stories of a few of them, hoping to give you a glimpse of their everyday struggle as well as their love for life and their community.
I am 8 years old. A man named Thein Han brought me here. He’s a monk from my hometown. He wanted the local people to receive better educaition, one past 5th grade at least. My parents are rice farmers and they can’t come here to visit me. My town is just too far away now... But they will take me back home after I graduate. Then I’ll be 13 years old. I don’t have any siblings here, so I have to take care of myself. At least, Thein Han helps me get the things I need.
I think education is importand because I’m now taking my classes and also learning how to be a good person. I feel happy here [at Aung Mae Oo Orphanage] for many reasons. I would not want to go back because I’ll miss playing rubber band games with my friends here. I’m also happy that we have Pongy (the principal of the centre), because he gives me food, allows us to play soccer and even takes us to the city park sometimes. We take rides and play together. I like it here.
I am 13 years old. Me and my big sister have been here (Aung Mae Oo Orphanage) for 5 years. I came from the KaBwak Village in Shwe Bo town. My parents still live there with my other sisters. I had 6 sisters when I came here, but two of them have died since then. My father’s job is to sell lottery tickets in town and my mother is a housewife. So they don’t have money to send us to a regular school, but it’s ok... I really like it here. I have made so many good friends at AMO and playtime with my friends is the best!
When I grow up I want to be a doctor and help the old people in my home town. I am currently in 7th grade. I am really happy here at AMO. My favourite subjects are English, Science and History. I love learning English, I’m hoping I will be able to speak with the foreigners soon!
My parent’s brought me to Aung Mae Oo Centre when I was 10 years old. I have been here for 5 years with my three younger sisters and younger brother. I also have two elder brothers who live at home with my parents. They all work on a farm. They grow tea leaf, corn and peas. They make coal too. I know that my parents brought me and my siblings here so that we can have a chance of getting a good education. They want us to have a chance of having a better future. I’m currently in 9th grade and I love being at AMO, I’ve made so many friends here. We get to study different topics I feel like we have a real chance in our lives. Pongy (the principal of the centre) is like a father to us. He has provided us with shelter, food and education and he is always there for us. I don’t want to go back. When I grow up I want to be a teacher at AMO and help the new coming kids that face the same difficulties like us.
I’m 14 years old. I live near Aung Mae Oo Orphanage with my mother and my 6 brothers. My mother cooks for this centre. My father passed away when I was in the 5th grade, so I am really lucky that our house is near to the school because I can both study and help my mother at home. I’m also lucky because I’m the only child in my family that will have an education. I hope I can stay at here forever and become a teacher! We get to study so many subjects and play football in the afternoon. I love Pongy (the principal of the centre) so much because he has provided me with a free education. He doesn’t only treat me as a student, he treats me as if I am his own son. If I could, the most important thing I would like to change at AMO is the medical clinic. I want it to be bigger so that all of the students can stay healthy.
I came here to Aung Mae Oo when I was 8, and now I’m 12. My parents are tea farmers in my hometown at Shan State. Previously I had attended a monastic school and learned Buddhist teachings, but I had the desire to also learn about science and history and... you know... things like that. So a monk helped me come here. I have 5 other siblings and all but one live in different areas to have access to education. Still, my father manages to visit every one of us once a year. He came here last summer to bring me clothes and things I needed.
I can’t be with my parents, but at least I have Nyang Tun Kyaw. He’s my assigned big brother. He takes care of me and buys me the things I need. I feel safe with him.
I’m Nwe Nwe’s elder sister. We came here together. I was 10 and she was 8. Our elder sister died when we were young, and youngest one also died a couple of years later. She was just 3 years old. Maybe that’s why I want to be a doctor some day. I want to save lives. Many, many lives... I like studying and cleaning in here (Aung Mae Oo Orphanage). I hate it when other students mess up the walls that I’d cleaned!