a “Lending a hand” Program Series
By Peter K. Yap
Last year, November 2016, we launched an exciting initiative known as the, “Lending-a-hand*” project, which aims to better the life of marginalized children from the Myanmar orphan community by accelerating their learning and productivity. Since the launch, our organization has successfully collaborated with dozens of unique individuals whom we have proudly recognized as “Orphanage Ambassadors”. Not only do these individuals share the same mission as our Foundation, but they have also enthusiastically become the biggest confidence builders for orphaned children.
Ms. Me Me Lwin, is one of our youngest and most inspiring Orphanage Ambassadors. At the age of 25, Me Me is a dignified college graduate from the Government Technological University in the city of Meiktila, where she holds a double engineering degree in Technology and Electronics. Me Me was born in Meiktila, a city situated in the center of Myanmar, between the federal capital of Naypyidaw and the commercial city of Mandalay. The city is known for its distinctive arts and crafts. It is also endowed with many magnificent pagodas and ancient temples which distinguishes the city from the rest of the country.
“Ma Me Me,” as she is called by the orphans, is a devoted volunteer who has provided hope.Within the local context of the Myittamone Orphanage shelter, the name that she is called means, “BIG SISTER.” Ma Me Me had spent a weekend in July at the all-girls orphanage in Hmawbi, Yangon Region. To reach the destination, a two-hour bus ride from Yangon was necessary. Ma Me Me’s previous volunteer experiences included contributions of funds and food preparation for elderly people.
The journey was organized in support of the Foundation’s mandate for providing educational and financial support for three candidates who are enrolled in the */High School Diploma/* program. The program subsidizes 100% of the expenses of three selected students, including school supplies, food allowances, tuition fees, computer purchases, and reservation charges for study rooms. “We must continue to be a source of inspiration for these young orphaned children by all means”, said Ma Me Me after her weekend visit. Although only 48 hours were reserved for the accommodations in Hmawbi, Ma Me Me was able to make the best use of the time by helping the Myittamone orphanage to be connected to the World Wide Web and include basic lessons for computer usage and internet connectivity. It was the first experience for these girls to the Internet and word processing. They even had their first opportunity to use Google and see the Facebook website. It was a special occasion for Ma Me Me and the three candidates as they became familiar with the power of the Internet and online resources for accelerated learning.
During the visit, Ma Me Me sat with 40 youths, some as young as 4 years old, to share stories about her own experience of being the youngest member in her family and working her way up from grass roots to become a college graduate. To achieve an engineering degree in a male dominated career was truly an outstanding achievement for Ma Me Me that helped inspire and motivate the children to strive to follow the same upward path of educational achievement.
“The opportunity to guide them in the right direction by sharing my own individual experiences is the best feeling and a priceless gift that I can extend to these children,” This “Dream Box of Hope,” as Ma Me Me described her optimistic outlook is “a powerful key to every lock that always comes up with solutions to every challenge”. “You’ll find yours very soon,” Ma Me Me told the children, “as long as you don’t give up!” She was extraordinary grateful to have the weekend filled with pleasurable and educational activities with the children. She even planted some seeds in the garden with the girls while teaching them some English words.
*About the Mary K. Yap Foundation*– the Mary K. Yap Foundation has been helping the orphan communities in Myanmar since 2001. The organization was incorporated in 2014 in the State of Delaware with tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) of the US Internal Revenue Service code. The motto that we stand by at the Mary K. Yap Foundation is that life is always about learning and giving back what we’ve learn to those who need our help the most. For more information about the ‘Lending a Hand’ Program, please refer to: http://marykyapfoundation.org/lending-a-hand