We are currently staying at the Lei Thar Gone guesthouse in Yenangyaung on a beautiful hill overviewing the Irrawaddy river (check on TripAdvisor or http://www.leithargone-guesthouse.com if you travel to Myanmar). Le Thar Gone guesthouse was build about ten years ago by a visionary, local Burmese in order to construct and then finance a joint school that provides education for over 100 orphans and poor Kids living in the neighborhood. The school is also supported by a few foreign, mainly German foundations. Beside that many smaller projects are financed such as water tanks for villages as well as micro initiatives to allow for a basic income. The staff of the guesthouse consists exclusively of local people that do an amazing job.
After the fishing trip yesterday and my solitary walks before, this morning we had a walk with the whole family through the nearby village. The village stretches along the (now dry) shores of the Irrawaddy and consists of – I guess – roughly fifty families living a very basic, sometimes dire existence in huts. Some of them have electricity. However, there is no direct access to clean water and the cooking is mostly done outside on a fire.
After a minute entering the village we were already surrounded by more than a dozen smiling kids aged 1-10. They became our escort for the rest of the walk and showed us around. Everybody wanted to hold hands with us or to play with the boys while the older girls tested their English skills with Alex. We were impressed and touched by the friendliness and ‘joie de vivre’ of the kids – that is difficult to describe and probably understand from our point of view.
We walked through the village and visited a ‘factory’ close by where in a largely manual process bricks are produced. A really tough work – done by men, women and kids – with over 40 degrees in the sun. We then walked around the fields and observed farmers and got a better sense of the environment. All the while we were accompanied by a large bunch of kids and greeted with curiosity and great friendliness by locals, farmers and passing bikers.
We are very grateful for the experience today. Having three boys that just have the luck to grow up in a safe environment and rich country, it is quite tough to witness the daily life of these kids and families. It certainly helps not to take smaller and larger benefits of our circumstances for granted. I think the boys now probably understand some things better and that ‘the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have (anonymous)’.