Three Stunning Success Stories
November 23, 2022

Even though I was unable to travel to Myanmar during this most recent visit to Southeast Asia, I did have the opportunity to meet with two of my wonderful Myanmar partners who happened to be in Thailand at the time. So I’ve got some great, first-hand reports for you today.

Kwan Lhar Village Preschool

Several years ago, in response to a compelling need conveyed by the Kwan Lhar village education committee, we were able to fund the construction of a much-needed preschool in this remote Mon State village in Myanmar. We were there to see the construction. We were there in-person for the ribbon cutting. We even got to participate in the grand opening ceremonies. Exciting to say the least. Believe me, it was a special day for this community. Then Covid hit – followed by the military coup. That left me unable to return to Myanmar for the last three years.

Fortunately, just before Covid made its appearance we put our sustainability plan into effect. After a rigorous due diligence, we accepted the village committee’s request for a tractor as the fund-raising “vehicle” for this preschool. The report I just received shows that this school is now fully self-sustaining from the revenue earned by plowing fields, grading roads, and otherwise meeting local community needs at market-rate prices.

The even better news is that school enrollment is up from 60 kids originally to now more than 80. To accommodate this growth, the teacher staff has grown from three to five. So in addition to all the early education being provided, five new jobs have been created in this village.

But wait . . . there’s more. Now, the villagers are clamoring for this school to expand to Grades 1 & 2. Why? Because the education they offer is so far superior to what’s available at the local government school.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the days and years ahead. Rest assured; we’ll keep a close eye on this still evolving situation.

Guiding Star Monastery School

I liked this monk, U Vimala, from the very moment I first met him. His dedication to serving the local community and educating the kids from the surrounding villages was unwavering.

In most of these villages there was no education available beyond Grade 9 – and in many cases not even that. He alone was making advanced education available for more than 200 high-school girls and boys that came to live and attend school at his monastery.

His idea for a social enterprise to provide contract rice harvesting for the local farmers made a lot of sense to us – especially since farm labor was in such short supply. His business plan was solid. So we funded a brand-new Kubota rice harvesting machine for him. Within less than a year he was making quite a bit of money and proposed expanding to a second machine. We funded that one with a 50/50 share so he could also invest in the new machine.

This man is amazing. Steady business. Steady cash flow. Fair wage jobs for his senior-level students driving and maintaining the machines. He has now achieved full financial sustainability for his 200-student boarding school now featuring well qualified teachers and smaller class sizes.

And to top all that, he just reported a pass rate of over 60% when his students took the national exams. At first blush that may sound like a low bar . . . until you realize the national average is in the 35%ish range. A stunning achievement in my book!

Nat Maw Village Preschool

Our third success story is about another preschool – this one in Nat Maw Village located on Bilu Island in Mon State, Myanmar. When we first visited this struggling little preschool run by a local village committee it did not even have windows in its tiny one-room structure. Threadbare as it was, two teachers were doing their best to provide education to more than 40 three to five-year old children.

Over time we were able to get the building finished and then expand it to include a second classroom. Water was brought in and toilets provided. Soon after that, an outdoor shelter and playground equipment was on site, followed by a new security fence surrounding the property. We also funded a small “rice-bank” as a social enterprise to provide some cash flow. That created a modest income stream to support the teachers’ salaries.

The school grew. More kids showed up. Soon there were 60 kids. Then even more arrived. The village committee continued to search for ideas to achieve financial sustainability. Several ideas were rejected as not practical. Then, one of the leaders suggested a tractor. Surveying the needs in the local community, they soon developed a business plan that made sense. The numbers worked. We funded the tractor.

The rest is history. One more well-equipped school – now financially self-sustaining. Three teachers, paid fairly. Over 60 kids becoming well prepared for success when they begin Grade 1 at the local government school. Beyond just funding the preschool, the tractor has also provided funding for other community improvements previously thought not possible. Another winner we are proud of, thanks to YOU – our wonderful donors.

YOU are what makes stories like this happen. Please stick with us as we continue to identify those NGOs doing a good job of educating and providing for the wellbeing of girls and women – and help those NGOs get even better.

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We Help People Help Themselves.
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