7th Report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre Myanmar
March 19th, 2016
Dear Family, Friends and Supporters of Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre
As we approach Thingyan, the water festival and, Myanmar’s New Year’s holiday, we look forward to a very new beginning. For the first time in over sixty years the country has a democratically elected leadership and change appears to be coming fast. While there is much to be hopeful about, rapid development and the opening of borders also brings new challenges. It is therefore important that all of us working here in Myanmar continue to respect the long history and rich culture of this beautiful country and it’s people.
Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre Development
February saw Sprouting Seeds Café and bakery open it’s doors for the first time. After a month of intensive woodworking preparing tables, building counters for the baking area and deck chairs for the garden we were ready to welcome our first customers. We aimed for a soft opening with limited space and marketing to give us time to test our product and our processes. We are happy to report things went very well with great feedback on the quality of the food, the service and the concept for the training center. One of our customers even designed a map of town for us to be shared with local businesses and hotels. We also ran some small cooking lessons for a limited number of customers, which were received very positively. Given the limited number of activities in Kalaw
Partner in USA
We view Sprouting Seeds as a community first and foremost and are always delighted when groups or individuals share the journey with us. It is with great pleasure therefore that we announce the opening of a café at the ???????Middle School where are group of “Sprouting Seeds Juniors” have launched their own café with the aims of supporting our work here in Myanmar. The leadership of their teacher who we met on a trip here has been instrumental in their achievements and we are so proud they are part of our network and hope to invite all the children to visit us one day.
Sustainability is key to all that we do here at Sprouting Seeds and wherever possible we want to showcase ways for others to work more sustainably or use more sustainable materials. As such the training center is a great platform to inspire others to use more natural materials. Therefore we were delighted when an Earthen Builder from Spain came to join us in March and helped build a cob counter for the café. This has already sparked so many conversations with people about the versatility of the material and its aesthetic appeal. Several local community members have already talked about building something for themselves with cob with two joining us for two days to learn how to work with this incredible material.
Strawberry Ice Cream Season
With the start of spring came avocado and strawberry season. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with new recipes making a variety of strawberry treats from ice cream, butter cakes, smoothies, fruit bars and jams. With the weather heating up we now look forward to mango season…our favorite time of the year!
As weather heats up here in Kalaw, we are moving closer to the Myanmar new years festival known as Thingyan. The last 3 months continue to keep us busy working with teachers and schools around the country.
Recently we have been focusing on natural building, specifically on teaching preservation and building with bamboo. We have held 3 different trainings in 3 different
Nawng Nang Community School (Kachin State)
Together with partners in Kachin State, we are supporting the development of 13 community schools. We are offering support through trainings in earthen and bamboo building, in order to build the capacity of locals in order that they can build their own schools.
Ja Noi is a 23 year old teacher living and working in the Nawng Nang community about 40 minutes outside the city of Myitkyina in Kachin State. She is a new teacher working with Grade 1 and has been active in the design and building of the school with her students. She and her students helped in the actual design of the building and helped in mixing the mud for the mud bricks and also building the walls and foundation. It has been a true community engagement process!
We have spent the last few months working on brick making and then building a beautiful stone foundation for the 2 new classrooms. During February and March we focused on building the walls of the classrooms and now in Mid-April we will bring in the Indonesian trainers to teach all of us how to work with bamboo and build the magnificent bamboo roof.
Naung Taung Monastic School as Eco School Model (Southern Shan State)
On January 9-8th we hosted the first of our series of Bamboo Workshops here in Myanmar. Together with local facilitators and one expert bamboo trainer, we taught a group of 40 participants from all over Myanmar how to preserve bamboo using a heated borax method. The participants came from monastic schools, church schools, community schools, NGO’s and community development projects. During the training we built the first treatment tanks and taught the process of treating the bamboo which will allow the bamboo used in buildings and schools which usually last only 3-5 years, a much longer and more sustainable lasting time of 30-40 years!
The training was a huge success and 2 groups of participants were then able to replicate the training and build tanks in Myikyina, Kachin State and Kyaubadaung, Dry Zone. The team at Naung Taung Monastic School, serving over 1,500 ethnic Pa-O children, currently continues to process and treat bamboo in order for our 2nd workshop there in November to build the first eco classroom there using earth and bamboo.
Shwenadi Monastic School (Kyaubadaung, Dry Zone)
This monastic school situation in the Dry Zone of Myanmar, serves almost 500 ethnic Chin children who come from along the Indian border. Part of the reason for choosing the monastery to work with is because of the Head monk, U Yuzana, has been very active in community development and environmental projects. We had already worked with their teachers previously providing holistic education training and now we are working at ‘greening’ their campus to be a sustainable model within Myanmar.
Using Permaculture design principles for the entire campus of the school and building with earth and bamboo, we are now supporting the senior Buddhist abbot to have a training center which will be used for his school, the local community and the network of CBO’s (Community Based Organizations) which work with them throughout the country.
We are now in the process of making bricks and starting the foundation of Training Hall, Kitchen and Dining Hall, Trainer and Trainee accommodation. All of the buildings will be made of earthen adobe bricks and the roof structure will be bamboo.
In July, another team of Indonesian bamboo experts will arrive for a second Bamboo Construction Workshop here in Myanmar. Treatment tank workshop has already been held and bamboo is just starting to be treated in preparation for the workshop in July.
National Network for Education Reform (NNER)
Together with one of our partners here in Myanmar, Socially Engaged Myanmar Society (SEMS), we support the newly formed NNER to attend an exposure tour in Thailand to look at education and community development projects. NNER is working on education reform in Myanmar and aiming to revise the national curriculum of the country.
We continue to work with NNER for training sessions here in Myanmar and also for a second possible exposure tour in India to explore holistic education and mother tongue language in schools.
As you can see, it has been yet another busy few months and we are excited to share the next projects with you in 3 months time.
6th Report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre Myanmar
December 19th, 2015
Dear Family, Friends and Supporters of Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre as we enter the New Year, fresh off the back of a victory for democracy in Myanmar, we are hopeful for a new era of openness and positive social change. We very much look forward to playing our part in these developments and have a number of exciting trainings planned for 2016. We wish you all a very happy New Year filled with love and success.
Karen State Youth Group VisitsAs you may know, we have been working with several different youth groups from around Myanmar through our trainings and internships in the Learning Centre here in Kalaw. Back in November forty five students from a Youth Group in Karen State joined us to learn about the work we are doing here at Sprouting Seeds.
Aye Aung and one of our international volunteers talked them through our work at the Learning Center; Café, Bakery, Eco Shop and Training Centre and gave them an introduction to the concept of social enterprise. Several of the youth were very interested in coming back for further study and internship possibilities.
We will be joined by another group in our network in January to learn about social enterprise and the work we do.
Site Preparations ContinueAs we still have limited staff here to work on the café and because we are aiming to produce all the products as well as design and build the entire physical space by ourselves site preparations are ongoing. We continue to build our own skills in design and woodworking as the process continues.
With more interns and help coming in January, we aim to open at the end of January.
News article about Whispering Seeds and Sprouting Seeds ProjectIn November as part of our annual work with Brighten running youth empowerment trainings and futbol (soccer) trainings around Myanmar we had the opportunity to work with a new volunteer from Brighten. Matt joined us to help out with the programs and wrote an article about the work we are doing here in Myanmar.
Here is the link for the full article.
Internship with Socially Engaged Monastic Schools scheduled for JanuaryStarting in early January, staff and trainers from SEMS and one of their alumni schools will come to Kalaw for several weeks for a work study program.
SEMS works with Buddhist monastic schools around the country providing 10 week teacher trainings, exposure visits to countries here in Asia and Peace Leadership Trainings. As part of the 10 week teacher training programs, SEMS holds a section on Practical Life Skills. Through the Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre we will be assisting the key trainers and facilitators of SEMS to gain further skills to share during their 10 week trainings. We will share about; cooking, baking, ice cream making, social enterprise, handicrafts, knitting and more!
New arrival from LondonFrom late January we will be joined by our latest employee Tej. She will be working with us in Kalaw on the Learning Center and delivering trainings on social enterprise. Tej first came to Kalaw in July where she spent some time with us on business planning. She has spent the last five years coaching social entrepreneurs in India and has a strong finance background as a hedge fund manager in London and Vice President of Equity research earlier in her career. She studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University.
We are excited to share more news with you in our next report!