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A Tradition We Hope to End [Jeff’s 1st Guest Blog from Myanmar]

17 Dec

A Tradition We Hope to End [Jeff’s 1st Guest Blog from Myanmar]

Dear Friends,

I asked team member Jeff Trotter to help me with a Myanmar blog or two. Below is his first, in which he discusses a deep-seated tradition that Heaven’s Family is fighting in Chin State. — David

Ki Nain Li, with her mom, Dao Ki Yone, and dad, U Ki Nain

A Tradition We Hope to End

Jeff Trotter’s 1st Guest Blog from Myanmar

Dear Friends,

The dreaded day is creeping closer for 2 families our team met today in the remote village of Shitkhua, Myanmar (Burma). That’s because they both have daughters whom they are preparing to send to orphanages in faraway Burmese cities.

Tradition is a powerful motivator. So is poverty. Together these two forces have stripped thousands of families in remote Chin State, where we’re traveling these 2 weeks, of their school-age children so that they can get a better, “free” education, regular meals and, they believe, a better future.

Shitkhua Village is nestled on the side of a remote hill in Chin State, Myanmar. The riverbed at the bottom of the photo shows how flooding last summer stripped away trees and deposited vast quantities of soil and rock from landslides upstream, a common sight throughout the region.

Getting to Shitkhua Village required riding for miles on treacherous trails and across rickety bamboo bridges

But the emotional costs of rending children from their parents is huge. Children in orphanages do not receive the critical parenting that all children need, and which large institutional orphanages cannot provide. And these children are not even orphans! It’s a system imported from the West over a hundred years ago, and is now running rampant—a situation perpetuated by the millions of dollars flowing into the country from well-meaning charities that are driving what has become a powerful niche economy.

Ki Nain Li, 14 years of age, and Ki Nain Hni, 13, are two girls from Shitkhua who now find themselves approaching what seems an inevitable destiny that will take them away from their families. Hni is currently in the 6th grade, and her parents expect to send her away in a year or two. For Li, who is in the 8th grade, the day is expected to arrive much sooner.

Ki Nain Hni with her father, Nain Gyi (her mother was not in the village today)

But all this can change if the people of Shitkhua Village successfully start new businesses that will provide the additional income they need to hire teachers for their children. That’s because Heaven’s Family will soon be providing micro-loans to dozens of families whose children will one day face deportation to an orphanage. Success is not guaranteed, however, and it will require hard work and a new way of thinking that breaks some of their long-held traditions. But if they can pull it off—and our success with other Chin State villages suggests they will—Li and Hni will remain united with their parents through some crucial years of their childhood.

And that’s a future worth investing in! Thanks for joining us as we work to help the children of Myanmar.

Jeff Trotter

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