Mandalay Me Down To Sleep
Forgive me Facebook for I have sinned, it has been over a year since my last blog post. I may have blog faded, although dither does 5 posts constitute a blog. I have no idea what dither means but I am going to leave it in the last sentence because it sounds fun.
The meat (or tofu if you prefer) of the story about to be laid out before your very eyes is that I am back in Mandalay, Myanmar. For those of us that went to public school in the United States, Myanmar is a country of about 54 million people. It is located in southeast Asia and borders Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Myanmar is one of the most impoverished countries in the world and most of its labour force is involved in agriculture. It also has some stunning scenery and may have the largest number of pagodas in the world as well. Check out Bagan for some incredible sights and history.
Even though I am not here for sightseeing, everywhere I go feels like sightseeing. Whether visiting the largest book in the world in Mandalay or driving the rural dirt roads of the countryside, there are sites to see. Some of those sights are just how impoverished the people here can be. After leaving, it is easy to forget the types of living arrangements people have. It can literally be living in a home consisting of a worn tarp over a rope with your children. Despite these situtations people are in general happy and in mostly good spirits. I cannot understand the language but I have tried to interpret body language and tone. Seeing all this again has been a great reminder that material things can not only burden us but also create anxiety, helplessness and dependency. This trip (3 days in country so far) I have been focusing on the positive energy to make myself a better person. It is easy to ignore or shame those less “fortunate” than ourselves living in developed countries, however they are the ones that can teach us the most. This is probably true about he less fortunate in our own communities as well. Instead of raising our noses at people in need perhaps it is time to offer assistance or at least some empathy. Stop and smell the unwashed.
As I don’t plan out what I write, that was an unexpected paragraph. For the rest of this post I will try to maintain a sense of light heartiness and levity. The purpose of my 4 week stay in Myanmar is to hopefully aid in the education of the youth through the installation of two more computer labs. The computer lab previously built (see former posts) is apparently doing well. Not only are the children learning, the adults in the community are getting an opportunity to learn as well. They have been holding classes at night and on the weekends for the adults. The plan is to visit Daw Hut Taw to meet with the teachers and get a better report on how things are going. I look forward to seeing them again and discovering how they are using the lab and what software has been the most utilized. It is very hard to get this data from the other side of this big balloon we call home. After that we will travel to the next two villages and start anew.
My plan is to document this trip with a high degree of accuracy and use the information and pictures taken to put together some type of proposal for fund-raising. When these labs are completed that will make only 3 labs in the nearly 60 schools built. There are several contributors to these two new labs including UR Building Knowledge. Without URBK I wouldn’t be here. I have also recently joined another charity called Innovative Communities. Hopefully soon we will be able to accept donations through the website linked. The two major hurdles with this project are procuring localized content and funding. If anyone is interested in donating please let me know. I will also post to when donations will be accepted on the Innovative Communities website.
Alas, not everything in life requires financial output. My requests to end this post require no money and very little time. Firstly, any feedback would be very much appreciated. I am interested in any questions or comments anyone may have. My other request is that everyone slow down during the day and reevaluate your surroundings. Just take in everything around you and try to see it with a fresh perspective. It is very easy to get stale in life, bringing old habits, biases and prejudice with you during your day. Take a minute to forget what you have “learned” and try to see things afresh.