Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Friday, 22 May 2015

THE NOBLE PATH (Hsipaw, Myanmar)

There are hundreds of thousands of monks in Myanmar. As well as the Burmese’ incredible devotion to their Buddhist traditions, there seem to be a few other reasons why there are such large numbers.

One reason, we learned from our trekking guides, is that people hold the belief that a sure fire way to heaven is to give your child into the monastery. Many poor families do this to also lighten the financial burden at home. The children receive a religious education, but maths and science and other conventional subjects are overlooked. Thankfully, they enjoy a universally stellar education through football! You only need to look at Wayne Rooney right?

In Kalaw, we had met an inspirational man, Reverend Saw Ah Be of the Karen Baptist Church who opened up a home for kids from the rural areas attending Government schools in Kalaw. 'Grace Home', what he calls a Rural Education Development Centre, was set up to accommodate kids whose families are too remote to access any other schools and too poor to pay for private boarding. For the price of a sack of rice, the Reverend takes them in for 10 months of the year and provides them with accommodation near their school and offers evening tuition to bring them up to speed with the local kids.

Here in Hsipaw we have been enchanted by the young monks running around playing football and being super heroes in the monastery yard. If they decide a monk’s life is not for them and decide to leave, they will be too far behind in their conventional schooling to rejoin a state school. Many we are told, rather than burdening their family further, being uneducated and hard to employ, prefer to continue through to ordination and secure that place in heaven for their folks.

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