It was one of those days with the perfect weather, the endless stretch of clear blue sky above my head if I ever look up, with traces of faint white fluffy cottons here and there. As I sat there in my car, heading for school, I couldn't help but feel this bubbly excitement building up inside of me. Finally, the big day was here, the trip to the orphanage was happening. As I arrived school, the atmosphere was lively, with apparent enthusiasm radiating from the students. At 8 sharp, the students left for the destination, to create matching smiles for this beautiful day.
After forty-five minutes of drive, the words "Aung Zay Yar Min Monestary" greeted me. As soon as I entered those cement gates, the sight of blurry figures running around and sounds of happy giggles filled the air. For a few minutes, I sat there on my car,simply watching the kids playing merrily, feeling a smile forming on my very own lips at the sight of such happiness. There were flashes of maroon color and I realized that some of the kids were novices. A minute later, when the bus arrived, I joined the other students, carrying a stack of supplies and headed towards the headquarters of the monk who was in charge of this orphanage. On my way, I caught sight of a group of little boys holding a spool and looking upwards, something that resembles so much like hope glinting in their eyes. It took a full minute for me realize what one of them was doing; he was flying a kite. I stayed behind, watching them, amazed at how happy they looked just by playing with such a simple thing. Taking in their dirt stained trousers and their dusted shirts, I thought of my younger siblings playing with expensive iPads and Xbox at home. My heart broke a little at the thought of how privileged some people were in this world and yet they never realized it, merely caught up in their complaints of life, whereas there were these children here, who feel fortunate enough just to have a roof over their heads.
As I trudged along the dusty path, I saw children of different ages, ranging from about five years old to teenagers. Later, I would find out that the orphanage also has a number of infants, who were abandoned by their parents, which was a shocking news. At the monastery, the students were welcomed by a friendly monk, who told us briefly about the orphanage, of how he had started this on his own with the help of a few donators, and of how he is currently looking after over 200 orphans. Recently, he has built a school to offer free education to more than 2000 students of the neighborhood. His speech was a subtle reminder of how lucky and fortunate I was, we all were, to be going to an expensive school like ISM .
Shortly after the inspiring speech, the students broke into different groups according to various activities such as games, english teaching and art. At first, the older children were a bit shy, standing rigidly and darting glances at us. However, when they saw how the younger children ran into the welcoming arms of the ISM students, they could no longer contain their interest. Soon, every possible space was occupied, the playground, the classrooms, even the hallways. Laughter and squeals of excitement took over the air, as sounds of applause occasionally broke out from the sports group. Little by little, we were able to excavate the hidden talent of cooperation and the secretive competitive mindset of the children through the marshmallow challenge in which they were excitedly engaged in. In the arts group, children were intently listening to the instructions on how to do origami, their face full of determination in folding up a beautiful bird.
As the sun slowly made its way upwards, and the seconds ticked away, the smiles got bigger and brighter. Not a single minute was gone wasted. For once, there were no boundaries between the rich and the poor, the lucky ones and the unfortunates, the privileged kids and the orphans. We all came together as one big family of the world, brothers helping the sisters, parents looking out for the kids, friends supporting classmates. A bond was created, , temporarily uniting as one community, one society of human beings. We were all content as a result; them to experience one of the few memorable fun days in their lives and us to be presented with an opportunity to help create smiles.
On the 12th of October 2013, a group of ISM students indeed helped create a positive difference in a small corner of world. Every student, with no doubt, put all their efforts into making this change possible, in lending a warm helping hand to those who are in need of love and affection, which we take for granted. We decorated this world with beautiful smiles and laughter, happiness and memories. By the end of the day, together, we surely made a difference.
On Saturday, November 2nd, the first installment of 14,000 USD or 13,500,000 Kyats was delivered to the Kyndamin Village in the Delta. Village leaders, along with the teachers at the school were all present to accept our donation. They are very appreciative... Even while we were walking through the village the grandmother (in her 80s) of twins came to us and expressed how grateful she is that her grandchildren will have a middle school to go to. The children were in 3rd grade so they will likely attend the new school.
Now the villagers are OFF AND RUNNING with the building. Construction is due to begin within the next 2 months. More donations will be delivered as we progress, step-by-step, toward our goal of making this school a reality.
Special thanks go to Mr. Hla Soe (father of Laura gr.7) who offered to drive three HS community service students (Ryan gr.12, Kaung Myat gr.11, & Steven gr.12) along with Mr. Todd down to meet with the villagers. Mr. Hla Soe's company is also donating a Solar Pump System which will pump water to the new school. The surplus of water from the pump system for the school will also provide water to the village. This helps greatly by making it easier for villagers to access their water supply and prevents water contamination because the villagers will no longer have to go to the water source to get their water. THANK YOU MR. HLA SOE!
Also, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to and support this project! 100% of your donations are going to help these village children in their education. We could not make this project happen without your generous support!
We still have a ways to go with fundraising... if you or anyone you know would like to find our more about this project and how you can help, please click HERE.
Also, click here to see more PHOTOS from our visit to the village!
Thank you for your support!
The ISM Community Service Team