Mar 17, 2021

11th Report for Myanmar Youth Training Centre

Playing in the mud-building our house!
Playing in the mud-building our house!

Dear friends and family,

We hope you are all staying and healthy and that the situation in your country begins to improve.

As many of you know, towards the end of January, Myanmar was beginning to contain the 2nd wave of Covid which has spread through the country. Unfortunately, Myanmar now faces new challenges. On February 1st the military gained country of the country resulting in a very unstable country and civil unrest. If you are unaware of the situation please check your international news in order to see the current political condition of the country. We pray for those brave youth have lost their lives of over the past month working to restore democracy to the country and keep them and their families in our hearts.

Due to the current political situation and unstability in the country we have chosen to focus our energy and time in the village at Whispering Earth Training Centre.  Regular phone, internet and power outages contribute to the many challenges we face once again here in Myanmar. 

Treated Bamboo Viewpoint Meeting Hall
We are so pleased to share that we were able to build our first treated bamboo house on the new land over the last 2 months! The building was the first experiment with treated bamboo, a technique using borax treatment to prolong the life of the bamboo. We also worked with local village carpenters to teach them new techniques of building, joining and working with this treated bamboo.

It took some persuasion to convince the villagers that the bamboo would be strong enough with the new design, but they have been quite pleased with the new learning and the result of the building. We still have some finishing touches to put on the building over the next two months before the rains come.

First mud building at Whispering Earth
We are also so excited to share with you that we have started our first mud building on the training centre. Due to the political situation and uncertainty of security, we have chosen to start with a smaller building in order to ensure the completion before the rains in case we cannot easily travel out to the farm.

Together with the villagers we have been making bricks over the past year and have over 5,000 bricks. We have completed the foundation and are almost complete the first floor of the building.

It has been so fun to see their faces as we tell them that no cement, concrete, steel or wood support beams are needed….only mud, straw, rice husk and sand!!

We have been inserting recycled glass bottle windows and teaching them a variety of techniques in working with natural building including; adobe, cob and much more.

We are so pleased with the result so far! We will continue to work for the completion of the building for the next two months prior to the coming of the rainy season. We cannot wait to share with you the final result in our next report.

Dry Season Fire Break and Struggles with Water
As some of you may remember, we have at forest fires over the last two years at the farm. This year we have been working hard to plant a green or living fence around the property and to create a small fire break to combat the fires during the few months of hot dry season here in Kalaw.

Because we have been unable to stay easily in town and run Sprouting Seeds, we have spent more time out at Whispering Earth. With more people staying here and building this year, along with an exceptionally dry hot season, our water source which we borrow from the neighboring farm has almost completely dried up.

For the last month we have been researching and visiting various sites around the farm to see what options we have to get more water.

We are pleased to share that we will start digging a bore hole in the next weeks! This is process becoming more popular in the local villages.

This will guarantee us a sustainable and endless source of water on our farm. This will completely change life on the farm! We are so excited as we will not only have more water for building and simple living on the farm, but we will be able to care for our trees much better and also will be able to grow more vegetables, fruits and herbs on the farm throughout the entire year!

Although we face extremely challenging times here in Myanmar once again, we are focusing our energy as best we can on the development of our training centre. Our aim is to be able to continue to support the people of Myanmar as best we can and make our small contribution to the development of the country.

With warmest regards,

Whispering Earth Family

Fun for all ages
Fun for all ages
The building is going up!
The building is going up!
Building the walls with glass bottles
Building the walls with glass bottles
So many things we can make with mud
So many things we can make with mud
Making cob is lots of fun!
Making cob is lots of fun!
Oct 12, 2020

10th Report for Myanmar Youth Training Centre

New land views & future training hall site
New land views & future training hall site

Dear friends and family, 

We hope you are all staying and healthy and happy as much as possible during these extremely challenging times! 

As some of you know, Myanmar is currently in the middle of a 2nd outbreak of Covid, resulting in the entire country currently in lockdown. Our small town of Kalaw is locked down and we cannot leave the city, but have movement to travel around within the town. This allows free movement out to the farm for the time being. 

As we are just coming out of a long rainy season, we are excited and hopefully that the rains will stop within the next month and half and we will be able to begin our building projects on the farm. 

Project of the Month Club
We are so excited to share with you that we were selected as Project of the Month Club for the month of August at GlobalGiving! This was such a great surprise to us! We were featured in ther Project of the Month Club for all of August. As part of the benefit of being selected as one of their feature programs, we are so excited to share that we will receive $10,000 as part of the prize for being selected! 

We are so excited and thankful for this great opportunity. The money will be shared with our other project, Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre. The money for Whispering Earth will be used to run the first natural building workshops on the land to build the first buildings as soon as the rains stop! 

Our first natural building at Whispering Earth and New Land
Our aim was to build the first adobe building in the spring this year, but with mandatory lockdowns and local villages closing their borders, we were unable to get to the farm. The rainy season then quickly stepped in and our focus went to tree planting. 

Now with the rains slowing down, we are making preparations to build our first buildings on the land starting in November, with weather and lockdowns permitting! 

We already have over 3,000 adobe mud bricks made and ready to start. We are currently working on the design for the building and getting materials ready to start the foundation as soon as we have sunny days and get the rock delivery into the farm. 

We aim to build the welcome lodge, with its own unique heating source. We are so excited to start the building project and share our sustainable building techniques with the local communities! 

We are also excited to share that the 5 acres of land that were originally part of our farm have now come up for sale. We are negotiating with the owner of the land hope to make our first deposit at the end of this month! 

The new 5 acres of land connect beautifully to the current farm, allowing a quiet area on the other side of the mountain. This area will be used for the building of our main training hall and quiet retreat spaces. It is ideal with views into the untouched valleys below and only noises from the passing birds and local water buffalo squeaks! 

We are in the process of incorporating the new land into our overall Permaculture design plan. We look forward to sharing more news about this soon!

We have been working the last three weeks to cut all the grass at the farm in preparations for the upcoming dry season. We also are working on new fencing and continuing road work on the entrance road to the training centre to make it easier access in all season. It has been hard work but we are almost finished! 

Rainy Season Planting
As we mentioned in our last report, we received over 600 trees this year. Due to covid and illness within our family, we were not able to plant all of the trees this rainy season. 

However, all the trees that did not get planting are being repotted into larger bags and will be waiting in the nursery for the next rainy season to be put into the ground. 

We look forward to sharing more news over the next coming months!

Hoping you all stay safe and healthy! Warmest wishes for you all!

Whispering Earth Family

Beautiful views into southern valley from new land
Beautiful views into southern valley from new land
Site of future training hall and all the views
Site of future training hall and all the views
Fresh cut grass around temporary kitchen area
Fresh cut grass around temporary kitchen area
More trees at Sprouting Seeds ready for planting
More trees at Sprouting Seeds ready for planting
Some beautiful critters at the farm
Some beautiful critters at the farm
Oct 9, 2020

22nd Report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre

Organic gardens are more colourful and growing!
Organic gardens are more colourful and growing!

Dear Friends and Family, 

We hope you are all doing well during these extremely challenging times. 

Closing Training Program and Café due to 2nd wave of Covid
As many of you know, we closed the café and the internship program back in the end of March due to the first round of COVID sweeping through Myanmar. We opened again in June and July, but only with very limited abilities, as international borders were still closed and domestic travel within Myanmar was still extremely limited. 

We took on 2 new local young girls into the training program at the café. During the 2 months that we were able to open we changed the way in which we were serving the local community. More take always and only working with bookings. 

Unfortunately, Myanmar has been hit extremely hard with the second wave of COVID and as a result the entire country is currently in lock down again. This means the café is closed and also means that the young girls that we work with through our internship program who come from remote villages are unable to come. This along with Myanmar elections to occur in November, there is a standstill here again and we are unsure how long it will last. 

New Ice Cream Parlor
We are excited to share that one of our new aims as result of the lock down in the country is to focus on our amazing ice creams as a new source of income generation. 

Slowly we are turning our bakery room into a bakery and ice cream parlor! We have created new ice cream flavors and are now offering banana split, ice cream sundaes and much more rich creamy desserts! 

Some of the flavors now include; Red Raspberry Swirl with Dark Chocolate, Chai Masala, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Coconut, Fresh Passion Fruit, Mango, Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pink Dragon Fruit. Thai Tea, Lemon Yogurt and our famous Salted Caramel with Dark Chocolate Chips. All the ice creams are homemade here by the girls and made using local ingredients. 

With this second lockdown we continue to have time to work on the design and shaping of the new ice cream parlor as well as repairs and improvements throughout the entire project. 

Yoga Program
During the time we could open, we were excited to host 2 yoga retreats. We were able to open the café and the yoga studio to two large groups. It was so nice to have the café buzzing again with people, flowers, good food and the smell of fresh breads and sweets and of course many of our new ice cream flavors being tested! 

We are also excited to share that during that time, we met local Myanmar lady who has trained as a yoga instructor. Once things in the country begin to normalize again, we look forward to working with her and starting classes again. 

Organic Gardens
As we have been in lockdown for several months here in Kalaw, we spend our time working outdoors on the organic gardens at the café. We are pleased with the way things are progressing and hope when restaurants reopen, we will be able to sell some of our fresh herbs, edible flowers and salad greens to help support our work. 

We also have been trying our hand at making sun dried tomatoes in our handmade solar food dryer. We have had a huge success and have been able to add our own oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil which we have grown in the garden. 

GlobalGiving Project of the Month
We are excited to share that our other project on GlobalGiving was fortunate enough to win a place in the Project of the Month Club. Our Whispering Earth Training Centre was featured during the month of August as the project of the month. Along with this, we were allotted a set amount of funding coming through the program. We are able to share part of this funding also with Sprouting Seeds! What exciting news this has been!

We continue to search new ways of serving our local communities as we continue to grow and change with the new ways of living which we all have been forced into. We hope things will be able to open here in Myanmar in the near future and that we will be able to take another set of interns for the winter season with several holidays coming up! 

We wish safe wishes for everyone, stay healthy and safe!

Sprouting Seeds Family

Our new approach with family style menu
Our new approach with family style menu
Sun dried tomatoes, homegrown oregano thyme basil
Sun dried tomatoes, homegrown oregano thyme basil
Yummy banana splits and ice cream sundaes
Yummy banana splits and ice cream sundaes
New exciting ice cream flavours!
New exciting ice cream flavours!
A little color to brighten monsoon season
A little color to brighten monsoon season
 
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