musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Hand-Me-Down Camera

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After buying a new camera earlier this year I gave my old Canon to Zin Ko, one of the children I know from U Tin Chit’s teashop on 90th Street in Mandalay. I always used to let Zin Ko borrow the camera when I was in town, so he was very familiar with how to use it, and he seemed very eager to have one of his own.

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I actually gave the camera to Zin Ko last November, on the condition that he would just be borrowing it again until I bought a new model. I’ll do another post in the next day or two, featuring the photos that Zin Ko has taken the past several months, but today, the photos are ones that I took of the kid myself in March.

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Despite having a camera to use, it’s been a rough year for Zin Ko thus far. He father passed away in early March, and a few months before that Zin Ko had to temporarily stop going to school, mostly due to family turmoil. The day after I returned to Bangkok in early April, Zin Ko went to a monastery in nearby Inwa to become a novice monk for ten days. Now that the Burmese water festival has come and gone, the next plan for Zin Ko is even bigger. He will be moving to Yangon to live with his uncle and aunt and a few cousins. Zin Ko has never even been to Yangon before, so this will be a big change for him in many ways. But hopefully, this move will end up being a positive change for Zin Ko and help to keep him in school.

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One of the men in that 90th Street neighborhood, U Kyaw Hsi, was a big help this last trip, giving Zin Ko rides on his motorcycle so that he would be on time to meet me for dinner, accompanying us to the market, and taking him to the monastery in Inwa. In the absence of a father, I hope the men like U Kyaw Hsi and Zin Ko’s uncle will help the kid through this difficult period in his life.

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One day while I was in Mandalay Zin Ko accompanied me to the Horizon Internation School, where an American friend of mine (the one who is still hospitalized) has been teaching the past several years. While we were there, the principal, Mr. Ahmet, gave Zin Ko a Horizon t-shirt and hat. That was a very kind gesture, which was very much appreciated by both of us. The t-shirt was several sizes too big (hey, he’s a growing boy; in another year it will fit!), but the hat was a definite hit. I don’t think Zin Ko took it off the following two days!

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