Missionary Society of St. Columban

 

Wai Maw Parish School (Myanmar)

After the military takeover in 1962, when the name of the country was changed to Myanmar, any missionary who left the country was not allowed to return unless they had been in Myanmar prior to 1948. In order to continue their work in Myanmar, many Columbans stayed on for many years without returning home. Myanmar is now one of the poorest countries in the world. The country’s resources are being eaten up by the military and their international supporters.

The Columbans had set up some schools when they were in the diocese. However these schools were nationalized when the military took over. The military junta has systematically destroyed the education system, and teachers have very little incentive to teach. The so-called teachers are not qualified to teach the kids. Most of them are failed graduates from high school, as these are the only people who will stay in the remote areas for a salary equivalent to US $20.00 a month.

The Columbans also set up boarding houses in many of the parishes. These boarding houses are still being used today. The children from the rural areas stay there and attend school. In the evenings they received extra tutoring and instruction in the catechism. Since the Church is no longer allowed to run schools, these boarding houses have become an important educational component for the Church. However, many of these boarding houses, especially those in the more remote areas, have become rundown.

Due to the grinding poverty under which the majority population of Myanmar lives, the project must be funded by benefactors. The military junta ruling Myanmar will not allocate funds to anything other than the government-run schools. It is the hope that education will provide the pathway out of poverty for future generations. With education come better employment opportunities which can lift entire villages out of poverty, one person, one family at a time.

The items listed in our Gifts to Give section are reflections of how past donations have been put to good use. Occasionally, we receive more donations for a project than can be reasonably applied to that project. When that happens, your gift will be used to support the work of the Columban Fathers where the need is greatest.

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