I first visited the primary school in Tat Ein village about two years ago. Htein Linn, a friend who lives in nearby Nyaunghswe and operates Golden Bowl Travel Services & Bookshop (yes, the best selection of books in Nyaungshwe!), mentioned that this village was very poor and the school had many needs. On my first visit I donated shoes (your basic sandals, which the locals call “slippers”) for all the students. When I returned last year I donated a variety of medicine which we put into First Aid boxes that Htein Linn had made. This time around I came back to re-stock the first aid boxes with more medicine (I bought some stuff in Bangkok and the rest was easily purchased at pharmacies in Mandalay), to give the kids copies of photos from the previous trip (always a hit!), and also some footballs (soccer balls, for you Americans!) and badminton sets.
The school only opened three years ago. Before it was built, the village not only did not have a school, there wasn’t even a proper road here from Nyaungshwe, and many people still lived on the “other side” of the hill. Even today, the “road” is not much more than a bumpy, rutted dirt path, but at least cars, motorcycles, and my bicycle can access the village without too much trouble. Thanks to the heroic efforts of one very thoughtful monk (who lives in a nearby cave!) and several generous donors, the villagers know have new homes, a proper school, and a road. No electricity yet, but at least this is a start.
All the classrooms are housed in the same building, with no walls separating them. There are currently five classes in this room. Needless to say, it gets pretty noisy in there on most days. We are planning to build some partitions in the room later this year, hoping that will help cut down on the noise factor and make things less chaotic … or at least make it easier for the teachers to manage their classes. Right now, the rowdiest kids in the room are the little novice monks from the nearby monastery who attend classes here each day. And, as you can tell from these photos, they are also the biggest hams in the class!
By sheer luck, I was in town for the third anniversary celebrations at the school the following week. I’ll have more photos of that colorful and festive occasion in a later post.