A couple of days ago we visited Kwan Hlar village, the home of our friend, Nyen Shwe, a very dedicated and hard working young Mon man living and working in Myanmar. Nyen Shwe was instrumental in getting four of the young people from his village to travel to Nath Maw village and participate in our education conference there.
About 30 villagers turned out to welcome us, and to proudly show us the community library then have funded and built recently. Here’s a couple of photos of this facility, run by a volunteer committee and offering reading and reference materials to the villagers, including periodic English lessons. Very impressive.
Quite a bit larger than Nath Maw, Kwan Hlar is home to more than 1,000 families. And, like Nath Maw they are very concerned about providing pre-school education for their young people so they can give them a head start for entering government school. While the Nath Maw school is educating 60 kids, Kwan Hlar has more than 300 kids in their currently over crowded, inadequate facility.
Village leaders have gotten a good start at building a large new preschool, but construction has halted because they have simply run out of money.
Far and away the largest industry in this part of Myanmar in rubber. That is the predominant source of jobs, income, and economic opportunity in this village. Passing through miles and miles of rubber tree plantations I could readily see why this is true.
The problem is —since 2011 rubber prices have fallen from a high of around $2.75 per pound (when the plans for this pre-school were first made) to it’s current level of about $0.55. This village is hurting.
So, in the spirit of helping people to help themselves, we’ve made them an offer. If they can raise half of the $25,000 they have budgeted to complete construction and equip their pre-school, we’ll match that. And, after hearing reports about the education development conference we led in in Nath Maw village, the village leaders have requested a similar meeting in Kwan Hlar Looks like we might be doing that as early as next February.
It will be interesting to see how they do with this challenge and opportunity. It would be pretty wonderful to see them find ways to thrive — even in a depressed commodity market for raw rubber.
Life is good — at least for some of us it is. Others need a bit of help. And, together we can provide exactly that.