Sponsoring bright orphans
In the capital Yangon, over 70% of primary children progress to Middle School (age 12+); in the Delta the figure is under 10%. Many fewer have the chance to go on to high school or university. The reason is a combination of poverty, and sheer unavailability of such schools outside the towns.
Yet almost every school HTBD builds has a few children of real talent, and although it is expensive, we choose to select some who are orphans and very poor, and pay for their further education. Two of our first three scholars completed their high school successfully, but chose not to progress to university.
Ei Ei Soe
The third one, Ei Ei Soe, is now 15 and has just passed her final school exams. She is a rather remarkable girl, coming from the village the worst-hit by Nargis in the entire delta. She lost both her parents and six of her eight siblings. Ever since we first met her at age 12, she has been an extraordinarily ambitious girl, given that she comes from such a remote village. She is determined to go to university and make a success of her life. She, and children like her, are a symbol to us of the spirit to overcome disadvantage and disaster.
Saw Yu Da
In 2011, May and Jon visited Taik Sein Gone school, where both the teachers and other children told us that there was a very bright boy called Saw Yu Da who was going to have to leave to earn money. It was a sad story, his father had gone to sea years before and not returned, his mother had died in Nargis, and he and his younger brother were living with their 73 year old grandmother, who had to leave them alone 5 days a week while she went fishing to earn money.
His teacher said that he was not only an extremely intelligent boy but also very talented at sport and music. Fortunately, a group of parents in the village had clubbed together to fund a middle-school level teacher for their children, and we were able to sponsor him to attend this and give the family an allowance for food. He was in tears when we told him.
Seeing him again in February 2012, he was smiling for the first time and continuing to excel. We believe he has a wonderful future.