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People Joining Together to Help Each Other

Recently, our Myanmar Country Director, Treasure Shine, and I visited the Marga Society in Hpa-an, the capitol city of the Kayin (Karen) State. In the Burmese language Marga means “blessing” or “heaven”. After my visit I left convinced that this place was well named.

Marga is an inspiring story of local community leaders banding together to address common needs that are not being met by government agencies or other groups. In the six years of their existence, they have established thriving programs to help local folks with blood donations, ambulance services, funeral services, disaster response and relief programs, and – near and dear to my heart – education for those most in need.

That was the focus of my visit. Education. Here in this one facility they educate 64 high school students (35 girls and 29 boys). All of them are Grade 11 (the final year of Myanmar high school) repeats because they failed to pass their national exams. (The Myanmar education system with its lamentable lack of critical thinking in its countrywide curriculum, with it’s very high fail rates, is another subject for another report.)

Anyway, the leaders of the Marga Society are especially proud that their students are able to make considerable improvement in their English language capabilities, in addition to their other studies, and pass the national exams at a rate higher than countrywide averages.

I verified that success – at least the English curriculum – as I had the opportunity to interact with the students in their classroom that day.

This visit was another one of many inspiring encounters with local groups addressing their community needs – and doing so with very little, if any, outside help from their government or other resources. I’m terribly impressed with how much these folks can accomplish with so little funding. They really know how to squeeze the maximum value from their limited funding.