Annual Report 2022
Kindergarten (Preschool) in Shwe Bo
Only after Myanmar reopened its airports in April 2022, we were able to visit the new kindergarten in Shwe Bo, about 110 km northwest of Mandalay. Myanmar had closed all airports due to Covid-19 in March 2020. After the military coup on Feb. 1, 2021, the ruling military junta extended the closure of the country’s airports by another year.
The preschool in Shwe Bo was completed in May 2021 but it was only allowed to open in June 2022. Because of Covid-19 and the coup, all kindergarten, schools and universities had been forcibly closed in a nationwide lockdown from March 2020 to June 2022 and many preschools and schools still remain closed today.
We were able to visit the new kindergarten in Shwe Bo for the first time in June 2022. The new building had been made possible by a generous donation from the German “Reiner Meutsch Stiftung – Fly and Help”. Today, the Catholic Sisters of Charity and several trained kindergarten teachers care for 70 children of different religious affiliations. In the evenings the building is used for teaching English to 30 older children.
2. Leadership and Vocational Training for Girls, Mandalay
Our vocational training program, which we started with the Good Shepherd Sisters in Yangon in 2006 and continued in Mandalay 2016, also suffered a setback. After the military coup, the authorities in Mandalay demanded that the Good Shepherd Sisters limit the vocational training program to sewing and hairdressing and makeup/cosmetics and that the computer classes and English classes are discontinued. The Sisters only temporarily complied with the official ban. In the summer of 2021, the Sisters gave in to the urging of students, parents, and teachers and enrolled 20 young women in a high-school graduating class. We continued to finance this program together with the Leverkusen-based “Wir Machen Schule” foundation in 2022. This education program follows the curriculum of Burmese schools and the classes are taught by trained teachers who had become unemployed by the school closures. Our graduating class is designed to enable the girls to take part in the state high-school final examinations once they will be offered again.
In June 2022, 11 female students completed the 12 months sewing and tailoring training and began a 6-month advanced program. Similarly, after completing the basic course in June 2022, the 10 female students of the hairdressing and make-up class began an advanced program to gain additional professional experience.
In June 2022, 23 female high-school students graduated from the senior class and a parallel computer training. As soon as the public schools start offering final exams again, our female students will register for the exam.
In July 2022, 52 female students began the new 12-month training program. In the 17th year of the vocational training program, 21 young women started the sewing training, 10 students started the hairdressing and beautician training and 21 young women participate in school and computer classes.
Prior to Covid-19, the German company Schwarzkopf had supported the beauty training by sending hairstylists on 2-week volunteer assignments to Mandalay. Unfortunately, after the coup, the security situation did not allow the deployment of international hairdressers to Mandalay. Instead, in 2022 Schwarzkopf Thailand helped the girls with a 2-week online training course.
3. Children Protection Center (CPC), Myit Nge
After the military coup d’état in 2021, the security situation deteriorated throughout the country. Children in particular suffered as all preschools and schools were closed and family incomes deteriorated through unemployment and inflation. People In Need (PIN) supported the Good Shepherd Sisters to start and expand the Children Protection Center (CPC) in Myit Nge, a couple of miles South of Mandalay. In Myit Nge most of the citizen worked at the government owned railroad workshop, “Myanma Train Engine Factory”, an important railroad workshop. To protest the military takeover all railroad workers went on strike and joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). The workers lost jobs and income and the number of starving families and children increased dramatically.
Initially, we helped the Sisters to fund basic sanitary facilities and a security fence to protect the approximately 4,500-square-meter property. In 2022, we started an informal school program and a feeding program for some 120 children daily. In April 2022 however, the Army forcibly evicted the striking workers and their families from their homes and bulldozed the railroad housing. People In Need and “Wir Machen Schulel” continued to help the Sisters and to meet the increased demand for schooling and nutrition.
At the CPC, children are cared for during the day, they can play and will receive a lunch. In addition to the children, 20 underage girls receive safe shelter at the CPC. The girls had fled to Mandalay to escape the civil war and turmoil in the country. They were living without income in the slums.
4. Community-based Learning Program (CbLP), Mandalay
In 2022 the Good Shepherd Sisters with the help of People In Need and “Wir Machen Schule”, continued the informal education program in the four largest slums of Mandalay. After all schools in Mandalay were closed in 2021 and 2022 due to Covid-19 and the military coup, the Good Shepherd Sisters initiated an informal education program together with parents, teachers and community leaders. About 110 slum children are taught by 10 teachers in private homes in four slums; other than schooling the children receive a daily lunch and basic medical care. The daily lunch is cooked in a central kitchen and distributed to the different classes. Thanks to the cooperation with the local communities, the community-based learning program is functioning successfully and largely unhindered by official interferences.
5. Ensuring Access to Education for Displaced Children in Southern Shan State
The Good Shepherd Sisters from Loikaw in Kayah State continued a school education program for 680 children through a generous donation from the German “Stiftung Childaid Network” in 2022. Due to the fighting between the Myanmar military and the Karenni National Army and Kayah Public Defense Forces, the Sisters, teachers and students had to flee Loikaw and move their classes to emergency camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Due to the traumatic living conditions, the learning program is supplemented by psychosocial courses. Currently, classes are held in IDP camps in Shan State. These camps are about 50 miles each from Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State.
6. Emergency Food Assistance, Lashio, Myitkyina and Amarapura
As in previous years, in 2022 we continued to help in emergency situations with our own funds or by arranging donations from other NGOs and foundations. With a generous donation from the “Anke and Dr. Arthur L. Sellier Foundation”, Father Francis was able to distribute cooking oil and food to families in villages around Lashio, the largest city in Northern Shan State. Further north, in Kachin State, the Sellier Foundation also supported people in need with our assistance. The St. Joseph Sisters in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, distributed rice, food, hygiene products and blankets at a camp for displaced persons and to 150 needy families in the Myitkyina area. The Ssters also organized and conducted 3-month summer classes for 72 children and were able to repair the boarding house for the children. Near Mandalay, the Sellier Foundation supported the work of the St. Joseph Sisters at the Lafon Clinic in Amarapura by donating funds for the clinic and the school dormitory. The Sisters spent the donation for 25 underage girls from Chin State who had to flee from fighting and violence.
7. Humanitarian Response to Affected Communities and Persons by Political Crisis in Mandalay
The Anke and Dr. Arthur L. Sellier Foundation supported the Good Shepherd Sisters in Mandalay to host and provide safe shelter for those displaced by the war in Kayah State. Initially, more than 100 female and male displaced persons came to the Sisters. After some refugees had found a new home with relatives or friends, 76 persons (56 female and 20 male) remained in Mandalay, needing care and shelter. 2/3 of the displaced persons were under the age of 24 and needed food, medical care, schooling and psychosocial support. The girls and women were mostly housed at the Children Protection Center in Myit Nge. The remaining men and women found safe shelters in close-by Pyin Oo Lwin and in Mandalay.
Unfortunately, the military clashes continue unabated in 2023 and the Myanmar Army is increasingly using artillery, fighter planes and helicopters and burns down entire villages. The fighting and increased number of military checkpoints make it unlikely that the displaced persons will return to their villages and homes anytime soon.
8. Man Pan Village, Northern Shan State. Roofing Material and Multipurpose Community Hall
Supported by numerous international and local donors, Father Andrew of the Don Bosco Parish in Hsipaw bought five hectares of agricultural land for 75 internally displaced families in Northern Shan State. The parish built houses for the 75 families who had fled fighting between the Myanmar Army and local ethnic militias.
Within a few months, Father Andrew was able to build a new village community for about 400 people with homes, a community hall, electricity and paved roads. The donation of the “Anke and Dr. Arthur L. Sellier Foundation” financed the major part of the community hall, which could be inaugurated on December 8. Already in July, People In Need had donated the tin roofs for the newly built homes.
9. Reconstruction of a Family Home in Pyin Oo Lwin
When the home of an extended family in Pyin Oo Lwin, in the hills east of Mandalay, burned down, a German doctor from Hamburg selflessly helped. We were able to forward the donation to the family and help with the reconstruction of the family home.
10. Hla Day: Shop for Burmese Design and Handicraft, Yangon
Hla Day was established in 2016 as a non-profit business in Yangon that sells Burmese handicraft products to tourists and expats. The store’s proceeds help
destitute and socially disadvantaged artisans struggling because of disabilities, discrimination, exclusion, and poverty to earn an income that can support their families.
Covid-19 and the 2021 military coup brought international tourism to a complete halt and the number of expats living in Myanmar dropped drastically. Hla Day’s revenues plummeted and as of April 2020, Hla Day had to endure 31 months with no profits and with negative cash flows. It was not until November 2022 that we were able to return a small profit, which again turned negative after the Christmas season. However, we will continue to try hard to keep Hla Day alive. Since the military coup two years ago, Hla Day has become a beacon of hope for the small remaining foreign community. For the shop’s employees and for the Myanmar artisans Hla Day is an important lifeline and frequently, the only source of support.
People In Need – Gerhard Baumgard Stiftung