Tun Tun School Project

Words can't express the amazing experience my family and I had this past winter vacation on our trip to Myanmar, to visit someone who I consider a very close colleague.  I would even go as far as calling him my brother...Tun Tun Naing.  Before graduating from Hiroshima University here in Japan, Tun Tun and I had agreed to meet each other in Mandalay this Christmas, so that I could see his village Min Kyo; the place where he grew up as a child. 

Roads were quite rough in Myanmar, so it was not an easy jouney and very bumpy hour and a half ride to his hometown.  Nonetheless we made it to his village and were greeted warmly by his family and the local children.

 After having some tea and a generous serving of delicious local fruit and traditional Myanmar snacks with Tun Tun's family, we walked with them to the local elementary school where Tun Tun had attended as a child.  Every step was truly an amazing and humbling experience because we were given a rare opportunity to meet and talk with local people from Myanmar.

A few moments later, we were greeted by local children on the grounds of the school with warm smiles and with a lot of curiosity.  As I tried to say 'Hello and Mingalaba' in their native language, they giggled with excitement and responded with cheerful hellos  and 'What's your name, what's your name?'  

Tun Tun and the other teachers gathered the children into their classrooms and we introduced ourselves asked them questions about their favorite foods and sports.  We were even able to do the Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song, which they 4th graders learned in English class.  It was so much fun and I thought children everywhere in the world know how to enjoy learning.  

Finally, as a small 'study well' gift to all the children, Tun Tun and my family distributed some school stationary and notebooks to the children that we worked purchased together in Mandalay city.  We were very grateful to Tun Tun, his family, the teachers and the students for this most memorable experience.

The time we spent at the school was awesome in itself, however, it left my family and I wanting to do more for Tun Tun and his community after saying goodbye.  We saw that the school finished a new building for a fifth and sixth grade class, but the village ran out of funding to finish.  They still needed to cover the walls, install a new ceiling, get a new white board, and they still needed desks and chairs for the children to study on.  Knowing that the average monthly salary for most in Myanmar is about $67-70USD, and that the cost of the renovations would take them some years to finish, my family and I decided that we wanted to help share the burden of the cost of the school renovations and help where we could.  

We sincerely hope that you will join us in our effort to help my friend/brother Tun Tun and his village to finish the classrooms so that the 5th and 6th graders won't have to walk or ride their bikes to the next possible school which is almost an hour away on foot.

Our goal is to at least cover the $5000USD cost for the classroom improvements and indoor furnishings.  We kindly ask for your help and strength in giving these children a chance to study closer to home, and in a comfortable classroom.  Chezu tin par dey and Thank you so very much for any help that you can give us.  Aloha.

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Robb JY Lee 
Aiea, HI
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