Imagine finding out a child in your family has cancer. Maybe you’ve been through it before, or you know someone who has-- cancer affects people everywhere. Now imagine you live in a remote village in Myanmar, living on only enough money for food and necessities and now you have to find a way to get your child treatment for a life-threatening disease. Unfortunately, for a lot of the families Art from the Heart met on our trip, they don’t have to imagine.
In Myanmar, there are only 2 places that treat children with cancer. According to worlchildcancer.org, of those who have access to the resources to get diagnosed, families have to travel an average of 11 hours to get to a hospital that will help them. And even of the families which make it to a hospital in either Mandalay or Yangon, many cannot afford to stay long enough for proper treatment due to the financial burden. Since the beginning of the year, it has been our mission to do something to help the children at Yangon Children’s Hospital.
To find out exactly what they needed, the Art from the Heart leadership team met with Dr. Myo, the head doctor at Yangon Children’s Hospital. She told us that they would most likely use donations for meals for the children and their families. Most of them struggle to pay for medical costs, so not worrying about meals would take a huge burden off their shoulders. It was noon. As Dr. Myo led us down the hallway, we passed what seemed to be a hundred parents lining up with plates to get their lunch for the day. Seeing the children sitting silently on their beds as they waited for their food was heartbreaking, some of them looking longingly out of windows. Dr. Myo explained to us how not all of them would even have the energy to get out of bed and play when we visited.
At the beginning of the semester, we set out immediately to begin fundraising, selling valentine’s cards in front of the lobby every lunch time for over a week. It seemed we were cutting up card paper and had members bringing in newly-made cards every day! There was no doubt, after all the lunch periods spent selling and the school nights spent painting cards and baking cookies that it was worth it—we made 2 lakh by February 14!
Our group decided to use some of the money to gift coloring books for the 60 patients in the cancer ward. That way, even the ones that couldn’t get out of bed would have something to do when we visited. There was no need for us to go out and buy coloring books—we had enough talented artists in our group to make our own! As some members worked on animal and cartoon sketches, the rest of the members continued to raise money, utilizing our last week before the trip to sell food.
Over 20 of us came to the hospital on March 31st—a Saturday--, along with Mr. Neal and Mrs. Bennett as our chaperones. We brought fruit, snacks, some books and toys to donate and of course, a coloring book and set of crayons for each kid. It was a busy day at the hospital—Dr. Myo set us up in a room with tables, and attended to the patients upstairs for the next two hours. The kids slowly came to join us, taking spots at tables. They all looked like normal kids, except one of them came in in a wheelchair, and most of them had bandages around their hands. They colored in their books, played with play dough, and later on we played some games, like pictionary. Some of them were shy, focusing on coloring in the lines and making their pictures the most beautiful, while others were eager to strike up conversations with us as they molded animals out of the play dough. We didn’t come there to cure them of their illnesses, but in the two hours that we were there, we got to talk to them and make them laugh and have fun, and hopefully forget about their illnesses for a while.
This year, Art from the Heart is hosting the first ever Art Festival, which is coming up on the Oct 29th at school! The local children from the community are invited. There will be an art contest and many other fun activities, such as face painting and throwing color balls. The goal of this is for these children to show their creativity and have fun at the same time.
All of us are trying hard to make this a successful event and are really looking forward to creating wonderful memories with the children. Still, this is just the start and we are hoping to create more artistic events to reach out to our community in the future.
CHILD is back! We started off the year with our first trip to the Sonne Child Day Care Center on September 28. With the addition of new members, we were all excited and nervous to embark on our first journey. We decided to focus on COOPERATION and TEAMWORK for this first trip.
We entered the center with anxious hearts, but the welcoming smiles of the kids blew our worries away. There was a huge group of kids waiting for us-around 35! Our first activity was an art activity-we had prepared a poster with a drawing of Bart and Lisa Simpson(!!!) and had cut it into 4 separate pieces. We divided the pieces throughout small groups and the children helped color and decorate the posters.
Our intentions were that the children would learn to work together without arguments over the coloring activity. The kids loved the small color pencils and crayons we brought with us. Seeing them happy and excited was the prize of all our hard work.
The children had prepared something for us too! They showed us their Thingyan (water festival) traditional dance.
The electricity went out!! Luckily, we opened our flashlights from our phones. What a way to save the day~~
We were able to present a small skit on teamwork which we had prepared. With animal characters, props and animate actions, we were able to make the children laugh and pay attention to our essential message: Working together is key to success.
It started to rain once it was time to go back. However, the brutality of the rain cannot belittle how content we were that our first trip ended successfully. Next trip will be another adventure! Stay tuned!
The Environmental club this year is taking a radical approach compared to previous years. It has been segregated into two autonomous groups: Blue and Green.
Blue group’s responsibility is awareness through Facebook group and in-school operations. This year, Blue group will be posting articles on the ISM Environmental Group Facebook group, sharing related articles, generating attention for operations, and recycling papers in the school. Its goal is to spread as much awareness about environmental issues as possible outside the school as well as inside the school.
Green group’s responsibility is to actively partake in activities that involve environmental reformations. Our biggest project, Operation Purification, helps improve the cleanliness of the community by getting rid of the trash around the neighborhood near the school. Currently, new plans and efforts are being made to plant more trees around the area as well. In addition, we will be taking a short trip to Inle Lake and working with other NGOs to discuss solutions that would help prevent or contain pollution caused by pesticides with the locals.
The ISM Community Service’s Healthcare group is back at it this year with more
and improved projects and visits! Our vision of citizens who experience health
disparities due to poverty and lack of health education has proved itself to be
continually prevalent. This motivational drive to help improve their quality of
life though health education and disease prevention activities serves as our
mission and fuel to move forward. Welcoming both returning members as well
as new additions to the group, we look forward to having a productive, fun, and
To start the year off with a little warm feeling in our hearts, the orphanage leaders Sabrina and Shwe Yee (Helen) helped the Global Issues Network (GIN) on their project called GINCARE, because GIN cares. They met on Saturday August 27th at school and took off for Grace Home Orphanage.
They arrived around 1:30 pm and set up the food, drinks, books, and medicine. The children arrived around 2 pm and GIN had a doctor as the guest lecturer. He educated them on the importance of washing hands and how it could lead to diseases. After about an hour or interactive learning and videos on how to carefully wash hands, GIN leaders gave them dumplings and milo drink to enjoy. The leaders then donated medicine to the care takes in the orphanage and books for children to write in. After the children washed their hands, it was playtime with them. The orphanage leaders then took over and lead them in playing several games. The leaders of GIN played with the children as well and took videos for memory.
After several games that Sabrina and Shwe Yee lead, the children themselves were teaching the students how to play their kind of games. It was new and entertaining to everyone around the street. With uncontrollably smiles and each and every children singing along to their game, the environment was lit up with their laughs and screams.
The saddest part of the trip enters when it was time for GIN and Orphanage leaders to leave. Some children at the orphanage were even teasingly asking them to stay behind. Around 4:30 pm, the GIN and orphanage leaders left the orphanage with the sight of children beaming with smiles and a lot of memories made. Hopefully, they get to continue helping the lives of orphans in Yangon.
Community Service is back for the 2016-2017 school year, and we are stronger than ever. With an updated leadership roster and a new website, Community Service is up and running, and ready to take on the projects of the year! Our current goals are to try and create a cohesive community for all. This comes hand in hand with the creation of a new group, Home For the Aged, bringing the total number of subgroups within CS to a staggering 8 groups. With this installation, CS is truly becoming an institution that looks to aid all those in need. Our first meeting will be on August 31st. We hope this year, we will continue to make an impact for all.