What a day! I traveled into once-forbidden Chin State, a region that has been closed to foreigners until very recently. And this year marks the first time in about 50 years that a Westerner like me can travel there without a government guide.
Today I visited the village of Valung, where I met with 11 families whose children had all formerly lived in Zion Orphanage in faraway Yangon. The director’s assistant, Tawk Lian Sum, was my guide. Zion had to send many of the older children back to their relatives because they couldn’t afford the prohibitive cost of sending them to high school.
U Thang Lio, pictured above, never meant to keep 2 of her 5 children in an orphanage for very long. Unlike those of the 11 other families, hers are still at Zion. Ages 6 and 8 years old at the time, they were only to remain at Zion until her financial situation improved.
Then in 2009, just when she hoped to bring her children home, a fire swept through her village, destroying her house and 25 others. Her hopes were dashed. U Thang’s children have now been at Zion Orphanage for over 6 long years, and hasn’t seen them since they left home. She doesn’t have a phone, and only gets to talk to them twice a year (only now are cell phones becoming available in Myanmar, but only to those who can afford them). During each call, U Thang’s children beg her to bring them back to their village.
I listened to 11 other heartbreaking stories from the other families, too. Although their older children are now back home, they can’t afford to continue their schooling, which is their only hope to break the generational poverty that’s trapped them.
The mood of the parents quickly changed from sadness to joy, however, when I began to talk to them about how Opportunity loans from Orphan’s Tear could help them fulfill their dreams of caring for their own children and afford their schooling. The room filled with excited chatter and their eyes sparkled with new hope!
I am so excited about Orphan’s Tear‘s plan to reunite many of the children living in orphanages with their parents, and I feel such a privilege and joy that you and I can play such a crucial part in seeing this God-dream come true!