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Friday, September 19, 2008

September 18th 2008: Donation at Mingalar Orphanage

Mingalar Orphanage was one of the orphanages that were damaged during the Cyclone Nargis which need a lot of help to repair the buildings and support the children. We have heard about Mingalar Orphanage from a couple of sources and last month, our volunteers were able to visit the Orphanage personally.

Mingalar Orphanage is located in Phayargyi Village, Twuntay Township, Yangon Southern about 1.5 hours drive from Yangon. The road is quite terrible, one of the cars had one of its tires punctured, requiring eight stitches. The orphanage is located inside the Phayargyi Mingalar Monastery and is situated on a land of 12 acres. The compound has a total of 8 buildings.

Training School

The Mingalar Orphanage Training School is both a legally registered orphanage, and an officially recognized primary basic education school. Established in 1998, it now houses monks, a school, staff (teachers) and children of various races. It has now 280 children of mixed gender, with ages ranging from 2 to 20, and with various ethnic background representing 43% Pa-Oe, 35% Myanmar, 19% Karen, 2% Shan and 1% Mon, Rakhine and Palaung. During the cyclone, 3 boys perished, 4 boys hospitalized and 15 boys injured and ten or so children were taken in after the Cycone.

The school has a list of damage assessments sustained during Cyclone Nargis and is requesting donors to help repair partially damaged buildings or new construction of collapsed buildings. Library, restrooms and two sleeping quarters were completely damaged.


The orphanage feeds the children 3 mid-size bags of rice, 6 vissas (10 kg) of oil, vegetables at a daily cost of 70,000 Kyats ($70). A month’s total cost is 2,100,000 Kyats ($2,100) on mostly vegetarian diet for the children. For the students attending the school in the city, they also have to prepare 140 lunch boxes, which cost more.

The children’s education levels range from nursery to university. The head abbot was able to properly license the primary school a few years ago, so the children are able to stay inside compound and study. But he could not get the license for middle school so those children have to attend school in the city, and need transportation arrangement and lunch boxes.

The school is accepting donations in the form of scholarships for the students, for learning-related expenses.

University student: $150 per year, per student
Grade 11: $100 per year, per student
Grade 10: $100 per year, per student
Middle school students: $50 per year, per student
Primary school students: $25 per year, per student

The school and the children have a minimal required amount of exercise books, stationery, etc., thanks to the generosity of many donors. However, scholarships are being requested.

We were pleased to see that children are polite, disciplined, well-behaved and seem to care about education and care about each other. We were touched when we saw a 9-year old boy being kind to and caring for an unrelated 2-year old boy. It was heartening to see such young and under-privileged children living such harsh lives, yet still managing to smile.

Our trip and donation

When donors visit them during weekends and holidays, the children are fed meat. During our visit, we made a donation of $140 (50 cents per child), so the children were able to feast on pork and soup. We were able to buy 30 vissas (50 kg) of pork.

During our visit, we
- Donated one meal (lunch) for 280 kids and offered alms (lunch) to 10 monks.
- Assessed damage during Cyclone Nargis and future requirements of the orphanage.
- Gathered information on best practices and success factors for running a successful orphanage.

In coming month, we will be donating $500 again at the Orphanage to help repair the buildings.

Time has passed. It has been more than five months since Cyclone Nargis. For some of us, those days may seem like just the dark memories, but for many others, the struggle, pain and sufferings still remain. Let’s continue to give them a hand to ease their pain and struggle, even if it is a bit from each of us, with all of our efforts together, we can make a difference in many lives.

On behalf of people of Myanmar, thank you.

Please check the photos of our visit here.

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