Thursday 23rd September 2021

Friday, 11th January

The last day of the first week! Yikes! How does time fly by so quickly when we are doing this work?

The teachers are very conversant with what they are doing now with Group C, our most advanced group, flying high with newly written materials and ideas from Kate and Mat and the others not far behind. There is a real buzz as I walk round and through the classes which are filled with laughter and chatter. How proud I feel of everything everyone is achieving!

After lunch, Joan and I pressed Kyu Kyu Hmwe and Honey Klaing, two of our lovely students, into service to take us shopping and get best prices for what we need. We needed to go to the bank, 150 pairs of ladies’ pants and 70 wash cloths, as well as combs, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap for 35 boys at Family Home, 150 women in the prison and 15 families in Phan Khar Gone. We powered through with the girls zipping us from shop to shop to get the best prices. Last year I got cute little reusable bags to put everything in but this year I’m afraid we have so many everything has been popped into plastic bags. We got an assembly line going so that we could take the 35 bags down to the boys at Family Home Orphanage.

The bunk beds we have funded are almost finished. They are metal which I didn’t expect but I guess make them very long-lasting and have gone way over budget but that’s ok. People in the UK have been so generous we can cope! The photos show that they are double bunk beds with poles above the four corners at the top to hold a mosquito net. I will go back next week to see the finished dorm but all looks great and the boys were in their study downstairs looking well and smart – so good to see.

Father Augustine was as welcoming and generous as ever. We presented him with the money to cover the costs and a bottle of whisky. He gave us copious amount of Myanmar beer! And many, many snacks! And then dinner! We were stuffed and barely managed to be safely taken back to the hotel by Anne and Albert and Aung Thu.

Why were Anne and Albert there? Well, before coming to Mayanchaung I had the privilege of being taken to meet the Ayeyerwady Region Karen Affairs Minister, HE Gha Moe Myat Myat Thu, who had organised the Karen New Year celebrations on Sunday. She showed me the Karen drum with its buffalo horns and frog emblem. And I got to bang it – 9 times! She listened carefully to what we are doing in Ahtutu, working through KMSS and was interested and gracious. Thank you for meeting me, minister.

Best part of the day – the team coming through to our room to pack 70 Days for Girls bags for the prison and Mat being the first to master the pant rolling technique shown on FaceBook. It took us a couple of hours but we had a laugh and finished an important task. Thank you, gang!

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