29 February – 1 March 2016
This trip to the delta was my primary reason for the timing of my entry to Myanmar. Some years ago, my friend Sandy (that I stayed with in Seattle when biking from California to Alaska in 2014) co-founded Educational Empowerment (EE) focusing on transforming the lives of children in Myanmar. A year ago, they finished building a school in a remote part of the delta southwest of Yangon – in a small village Khin Tan with 250 people and around 50 young children. And remote it is. A 4-5 hour drive on small, busy, bumpy roads from Yangon and then an hour’s boat ride up the river amongst the rice fields.
Before the school was built, education in the village was at best random, so EE offered to build the school and provide supplies if the government “provided” qualified teachers. The importance of this school was obvious to me – despite it being a holiday most of the village and children showed up to greet us and staying the afternoon was a very moving experience – the appreciation, joy, kindness and hospitality was second-to-none. Sandy had prepared different activities for the children in which they participated with enthusiasm.
Over the years, many people I have met on this bike trip around the world, have offered to donate money to support my trip. I always decline and suggest supporting people/causes who have a much greater need than I do.’
Personally, I hardly ever support with money, as I never know how they are spent and how much is overhead not benefitting the people it’s supposed to. I prefer to donate my time to be involved and get a feel/understanding of the circumstances/lives of the people I support. EE is one of the few exceptions because it’s a very small, hands-on organisation without overhead. It’s run by volunteers and Sandy for instance, pays her own travel cost visiting Myanmar. And now that I’ve experienced the fantastic work that EE does here in Myanmar, I’ll keep supporting the organisation. Besides this school, EE also promotes books, libraries and other things related to education and learning as well as very successful micro finance loans - and unlike other organisations all of the interest paid for the loans is used to support the local community.
If you have a few spare dollars, I highly recommend making a donation to EE. Education transforms lives and here in Myanmar very small amounts make a huge difference for children who otherwise have no chance of getting an education.
On their website, you can read much more about Educational Empowerment and - if you feel like it - make a donation.