Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Myanmar: Bringing smiles to children in a Myanmar IDP camps

Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department

It was wonderful to see smiles of the primary school students, as they received the EU and Finn Church Aid (FCA) education kits on a sunny day. In the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp of Set Yoe Kya (nearby the Buddhist camps of Sittwe), Western Myanmar, smiles are rare.

It wasn’t an easy job for the teachers to control the excited parents. Parents were anxious for their children waiting among the queuing students for their teachers to call out their names in order to receive their kits.

“I am so tired and I have even lost my voice; however, I am so glad for my students receiving the kits. As IDP students they have to attend classes in a small school, share small spaces and they don’t have enough facilities with peers”, says Than Than Shwe, a 47-year-old teacher from Set Yoe Kya school.

But on the 24th of June, the children were all smiles and looked curious about the kind of items which were inside the enclosed bags, delivered to them by the teachers and staff of Lutheran World Federation (LWF). As the children received their kits, they looked for their family members to come and help carry the heavy kits. Especially 1st grade students’ family members were ready and waiting outside of the school.

Education kit: rubber slippers and a rain coat

Each student received one bag, which includes pencils and erasers, a ruler, a pencil case, a school bag, a lunch box, a water container, a sharpener, rubber slippers, a raincoat and several exercise books, which were funded by the EU Children of Peace Initiative (CoPI).

“The kits are very useful for students, as they include school utensils for the primary students and other necessary equipment. For example, some of the students come to school without slippers. Honestly, they don’t have good slippers to wear during the rainy season as parents cannot afford to buy nice ones. But now, at least, parents don’t need to worry any more about the slippers”, says mother Khine Khine Nwae.

In IDP camps small gestures such as these often have great psychological significance.

“I am sure I will see my students filled with happiness and satisfaction using the items in class. They themselves are very proud of owning these kinds of kits. Moreover, these items support IDP students both physically and mentally. They will build up their self-esteem and they will be more interested in attending school in order to use all the items”, Than Than Shwe says with a smile.

Students from the first to fifth grades of Set Yoe Kya No.1 Primary School received 289 kits. Children of nearby schools, as well as one of the Buddhist camps of Sittwe Township received an additional 39 kits. During the academic year, some 1345 additional IDP students have received the CoPI education kit.

“I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books”

“No one will feel unhappy when they have received their kits. I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books and try very hard to be an outstanding student in class”, Soe Moe Nwae, 6, says.

In the end, some of the children had to carry the heavy items by themselves. In IDP camps, parents don’t always have the time for anything else than taking care of their livelihood and daily jobs, often in the town centre. These include construction site labour, carrying bags, stones, firewood, or work as tri-cycle drivers. But at least today all the children, teachers and parents left with big smiles on their faces.