I recently had dinner in Bangkok with Bernard from the Scintallae Foundation, a charitable organization based in Switzerland. He had just returned from Myanmar, where he has several ongoing projects. This foundation does some very admirable work in developing countries, primarily helping to build or refurbish schools for children and adolescents in communities where education opportunities are lacking. One of the main countries that they focus on is Myanmar, where they have projects in or near Bagan, Chin State, Yenangyang, and Bago.
Bernard and I have several mutual friends in Myanmar, including Win Thuya and his wife Htar Htar, who run Myanmar Mosaic Travel in Yangon, and Ma Pu Sue, who runs the Bamboo Delight Cooking Class in Nyaungshwe. The common denominator that links these fine people is a desire to give back to their communities and improve the way of life for the locals, especially young students.
The Scintallae Foundation’s very newest project is a so-called “Bottle School” in a village near Bagan. Bernard and Thuya were there last month helping to get the project off the ground … literally. The main objective behind the project is to raise awareness among the local people about the damage caused by plastic waste, and to offer them resources to combat this problem, all while improving the level of education in the village. For the construction of the school traditional material such as wood, iron, and concrete are used. But in addition to that, they have developed an ingenious system of recycling plastic bottles and other types of plastic waste instead of using bricks for the building’s walls. This system was developed by a non-profit NGO, operating primarily in Central and South America, called hugitforward.org. They work with a sister organization called huskcambodia.org, who are also offering technical support to the Myanmar project. For this Bagan area school, the Bagan Plastic Campaign was also an important participant.
I’m really proud of the work that Bernard and his organization are doing in Myanmar. And it’s also gratifying to seeing a young business owner such as Win Thuya devoting so much of his time and energy (besides running the travel agency, he works at the French Embassy in Yangon, and helps to oversee the Kuthodaw public library he started in Bagan — a busy man!) to helping coordinate these projects. But above all, it’s very exciting to see these schools being built in rural areas that didn’t have them previously. This is true people power!