It has been a couple busy days. Thursday was going over the children’s records and preparing for the meeting of the management committee of the orphanage. I brought a portable printer so the Type A in me was able to print an agenda for the meeting. I was fortunate to have the participation of David Causkill from ICC Australia, an NGO that has been operating in Myanmar for many years. He was just visiting the school adjacent to the orphanage but when he visited Bethel Children’s Home and met Virginia and Jonathan, he was impressed and wanted to help.
|The girls' dorm. It desperately needs weather proofing improvements , a project for February|
With David’s guidance and suggestions, we decided to prepare a memorandum of understanding between the school and Bethel Children’s Home regarding a number of matters related to access, boundaries, water, electricity, and other important operational matters. I worked on the MOU through dinner and then drove to town to meet with the representatives from the school. From a legal standpoint I don’t think any of it is binding. But here, that doesn’t matter (there is no effective legal system to speak of). We have the school’s written statement that they will do certain things to benefit and protect the orphanage and when we visit next we can hold it up and say “you agreed.” Honor does mean something here.
In between, we took the 4 kids to the clinic, but all that happened was that tests were ordered for 3 and we had to bring them back the next day. The two blood tests and one chest x-ray cost less than $15, amazing. We then had to drag the kids back to the clinic in the evening for the results and prescriptions.
The doctor at the clinic didn’t charge us for the visits when she found that the kids were orphans, even though I was there (with bulging American pockets). The final upshot: two girls positive for Hepatitis B and no TB in the boys. I will be arranging for the remainder of the children to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B. David tells me that Hep B is very common in orphanages in Asia, so without vaccination it is inevitable that more would succumb.
|Lu Bwe Do and Jun Khaing Htoo, happy BCH kids|
After the final doctor visit with results, I treated the kids to ice cream at a shop in Toungoo. I think a couple of them had never had it before. Our driver, Virginia, and Jonathan also had some, savoring it as a rare treat (the rest of the kids were at chapel, so the house parents were able to come along to the doctor). Sometimes, it’s the small things…
|The older girls, helping Virginia prepare dinner|
The rest of Friday was going over the financial reports with Jonathan and re-doing the budget now that Virginia and Jonathan have been operating for the place for 6 months. Next up: with the kids at church, Virginia is coming to town to spend the day with me going to the market and buying some things for the kids (we need to fill prescriptions and buy underwear, so exciting!)
A number of the new children came directly from the jungle with only the clothes on their backs and no underwear or hygiene. One of Virginia’s many roles is to each them about cleanliness and hygiene (in addition to cooking, health care, record keeping, food preparation – although with more girls now she has help, shopping). She and Jonathan do all this without pay, and even donated some of their savings to the orphanage. She is a mama hen with 24 chicks, doting on each one. Even David from ICC, who is completely jaded by his experience in Myanmar, described Virginia and Jonathan as “gold.” I am glad to be here so that they know that we (Myanmar Children’s Hope Fund and the Willes family) have their backs.
|Olivia knows how to cook over an open fire, as most of the girls do, coming from the jungle.|