My name is Manon and I am the overseas volunteer in charge of the sponsorship programmes in Mandalay and the North of the Shan state. It’s already been six months since I arrived in this beautiful country of Myanmar. During one of my visits to Mandalay, I had the chance to meet Aye Mya Thu, who receives a sponsorship and her mother.
I went to Aye Mya Thu’s home accompanied by Sister Eugenia, who manages the sponsorship programme in Mandalay. To reach the little bamboo house, where the sponsored child and her family lives, we had to cross a wasteland and do a bit of climbing. Indeed, the house is surrounded by swamps. Walking on wooden platforms and a few rocks is an agility and equilibrium test, but we finally reach our goal. Aye Mya’s mother is waiting for us with fruits and water. A neighbour and her daughter, who is also sponsored by Children of the Mekong are with her. Both give me news of their situation.
It’s been four years since the family moved to this house. They used to live in the international School of Mandalay’s ground as the mother was a caretaker there. Now, she stays at home, taking care of the sow, whose piglets are a small source of revenue for the family. Aye Mya’s father works in the Zegyo market, one of the biggest in Mandalay, as a delivery man. The young girl’s two big brothers work in construction, which is a more stable source of income for the family.
At the age of 7 years old, Aye Mya is in Grade 1, the Equivalent of Year 1 in the UK. She is a happy and playful child, and she had made herself especially pretty for our visit. Her mother tells us very proudly that Aye Mya received at the start of the school year the second prize for her grades. The girl adds “This year I’ll get the first prize!”. Aye Mya really enjoys school, she says favourite subjects are English, Maths and Burmese. When I ask her what she wants to do when she grows up, she answers without any hesitation “teacher“!
After school, Aye Mya also has tuitions, indeed, the education system in Myanmar is poorly designed: most of the subjects are taught in English, although the students don’t speak the language… Learning is based on memorisation, learning things by heart, and the students have to attend tuitions to pass their school year and improve their chances of passing the Matriculation Exam, the equivalent of the English A-Levels.
Sponsorship allows the parents to pay for these tuitions, as well as to buy school supplies. This financial support also allows the sponsored child to have a little bit of pocket money, with which he/she can buy snacks or toys!
Meeting Aye Mya was a beautiful moment, her mother is adorable and I was very touched by their warm welcome and their kindness. I second Aye Mya Thu and all the children we support to say a huge thank you to all the sponsors who allow them to go to school! “
Manon, Overseas volunteer in Myanmar