A Visit to Nath Maw Village – Myanmar
December 3, 2015
Nath Maw Village is a small place on Giant Island, located in the Thawlwin River. Nath Maw is accessible only by a ferryboat across this very large river. The current is swift. It took us 45 minutes to get there from Mawlamyine; 90 minutes to return.
Here we are boarding the boat we took
And, here’s a view of the village looking out the school window

We had visited Nath Maw last summer. At that time they were hoping to finish the walls and windows for their pre-school (that they call a kindergarten) for 60 kids ages 3 to 5. We funded that building project. They got the work done before the rainy season and are delighted with their newly completed building. Here’s a look at the inside – all finished.

Treasure (my great partner and translator) and I were invited back to the village because they wanted some coaching about how to increase their community support. So, we began the day with a “Meeting Question”: How do we communicate the importance of education and get the community to support our school? Most of the conversations and notes were in Burmese, which looks like this:
Twenty-five representatives from the school and the local community, including a fine group of young people, along with another group of young people from the Kwan Lhar village were there for the meeting. This was particularly interesting because we combined two cultures, Burmese and Mon. They got along just fine.
Working in small groups we addressed two questions. First: Why is education important to our village? They came up with a blizzard of ideas. Then we addressed a second question: Why should the village support our school? Once again, a blizzard of ideas – all in Burmese, of course.
Then it was time for lunch. So, the ladies of the village showed up with food – and our meeting room was quickly converted into a dining hall. We were treated to a feast.
After lunch we focused on a third question: How can we best take our message to the village? Again, a blizzard of ideas – which were soon consolidated into seven areas of importance.
Following that, each of those seven areas was converted to a single Action Statement. And, to everyone’s delight, for each of those seven Action Statements, a villager stepped forward and volunteered to be the Champion for that Statement, including recruiting team members and committing to positive action within the next six months. (We made a little donation to give them a quick start for expenses.)

We got an amazing amount of work done in just five hours of meeting time. More importantly, the villagers are excited about charging ahead with their seven Action Items. I’ll be looking forward to seeing their progress when I visit again next year, and sharing that progress with you. As you can see below, it was a good day. But…these villagers still need our help. To say that these folks are running this pre-school on a shoestring would be a huge understatement. Actually they are going hand-to-mouth, day-to-day. The government provides them with $350 for a teacher and $250 for an assistant teacher — per year. That’s it. Per Year! After that this little community of dedicated people is on their own to keep this school running and get more than 60 kids prepared to enter government school at grade one. Let’s help them out. We can make a real difference for them.