Catholic missions inspire young Buddhist

One of the few children in her village to complete their high school education, Myint Myint Maw, is well aware of the advantages that education brings.

April 01 2014, 3:34 PM
Catholic missions inspire young Buddhist
Myint Myint Maw

The education and exposure received from Catholic institutions is behind a young Buddhist woman’s desire to open a pre-school for children in her village of Popa, near the ancient pagoda-dotted city of Bagan.

One of the few children in her village to complete their high school education, Myint Myint Maw, is well aware of the advantages that education brings.

“In 2007 I graduated and I went to Yangon to work as an engineer. But the salary was very low. Fortunately I got a scholarship from my former teacher and so I studied English at Campion.”

Myanmar at the time was emerging from decades of military dictatorship. Young Burmese were realising that learning English is the key to take advantage of the economic growth of the country.

The Jesuits, who long anticipated the importance of English as a means for advancement, had established the Campion English Institute in Yangon in 2003. The institute, one of several projects in Myanmar funded entirely by Jesuit Mission, has transformed the lives of many young people like Maw through its high-level English courses.

For almost two years Maw lived in the hostel at Campion and diligently attended class, becoming so fluent in English she was able to volunteer as a teacher at the institute, instructing students who had enrolled in its health programme.

Far from her village, she felt that she’d found a new home. “Oh, Campion is like a family! You feel a sense of family; everybody’s very friendly; the teachers are very friendly, unlike the other schools. The other schools are like a business…Campion it’s not like that. That’s why I like it,” she said.

After Campion, Maw taught English to Grade 6 and Grade 7 students at a small learning centre in Yangon for two years. During this time she stayed with sisters from the Faithful Companions of Jesus. The relationship that developed between this devout young Buddhist and the Catholic sisters opened up another opportunity for her when the sisters awarded her a scholarship to study community development at the Asian Social Institute in Manila in the Philippines. While there, Maw spent time caring for abandoned babies.

“I was not a patient person before, but when I went to Manila and I worked with them for nine months I began to love the babies, and I learned to be patient,” she explained how she developed a liking to her new venture.

“Before I went to Manila I said to the sisters, ‘As soon as I come back to Myanmar I will go back to my place to serve the people’,” she recollected.

Maw’s desire to do something meaningful has made her decision to open a pre-school in her village this year.

Source: Province Express/

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