Jan 4, 2016

6th Report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre

Site planning for bamboo huts and outside seating
Site planning for bamboo huts and outside seating

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 Visits
As 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 Continue
As 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 Project
In 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.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/12/22/unlikely-foster-father-bringing-change-myanmar

 

Internship with Socially Engaged Monastic Schools scheduled for January
Starting 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 London
From 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! 

Finishing touch new tables in our woodworking area
Finishing touch new tables in our woodworking area
One of our new products; Cinnamon Rolls
One of our new products; Cinnamon Rolls
Rosemary & Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread
Rosemary & Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread
Birthday cakes & Cashew Brownies
Birthday cakes & Cashew Brownies
Belgian Waffle press for cookies & breakfast treat
Belgian Waffle press for cookies & breakfast treat

Links:

Jan 4, 2016

8th Report for Rural Teacher Training in Myanmar

Play for Peace Practice Peace Session
Play for Peace Practice Peace Session

8th Report for Rural Teacher Training in Myanmar
December 19th, 2015

 

Dear friends, family and supporters of our Teacher Training Programs in Myanmar,

We are pleased to share with you another report on the progress of the Teacher Training Programs here in Myanmar. As usual, it has been a busy three month period with many activities.

In particular, November was an extremely busy month as several trainers and volunteers were working with us to share a variety trainings here in Myanmar.

Play for Peace in Myanmar
Our dear friends from India, Swati and Agyat, skilled Play for Peace trainers joined us for the entire month. We first met Swati and Agyat in Thailand several years ago and since that time have been planning for them to come and work with us here in Myanmar.

Along with the support of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Socially Engaged Monastic Schools (SEMS), we were able to organize 5 Play for Peace Trainings. We began with  Play for Peace Training of Trainers (TOT) in Bago Region for a select group of skilled trainers, facilitators, community leaders and teachers. Key trainers joined the training from Myanmar, Laos and Thailand to make it an International Training for Trainers.

Following this, we moved to the central region of Myanmar to host another training at Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School. We then joined with Brighten Foundation and together a group of 6 trainers went to Southern Shan State to lead a Play for Peace and Youth Empowerment Training with a group of Pa-O youth from Naung Taung Monastic School and two youth groups from nearby Taunggyi.

Several Play for Peace groups were established and are now sharing their activities with each other throughout Myanmar and with the global Play for Peace community.

Swati and Agyat will return to Myanmar in June to do a followup series of trainings for alumni of the first trainings held in November and to reach into new regions of Myanmar to share Play for Peace. In February, a select group of alumni from the Myanmar trainings will also register to be certified Play for Peace trainers in Myanmar. We are grateful for Swati and Agyats amazing energy and commitment to sharing these skills with children and community members throughout Myanmar!

Democratic and Holistic Education Training Part III in Kachin State
As you may recall from previous reports, I have been working in Kachin State with several local groups to provide trainings for teachers in Holistic and Democratic models of education, and focusing on child development as well as sharing trainings with local communities in earthen building to support on going process of building a number of community based schools with sustainable buildings.

In November, as we went to Kachin State to share the Play for Peace trainings, I also had the chance to run the 3rd Training in Holistic Education as part of a series we have been providing to teachers from Kachin State over the last year. During this training we met with the same participants from the previous two trainings as well as new teachers.

The focus was on Child Development and specifically the development of the human brain and better understanding how the brain grows and how as teachers and parents we can use that knowledge to better address the needs of our developing children. The three day training was a huge success and we are looking forward to heading back up to Kachin State in the early part of 2016 to share the 4th Part of the trainings focusing on the Teenage Years and Tools for Parents.

Earthen Building in Kachin State
As part of our ongoing work with partner organizations in Kachin State, we are now supporting the development of 13 community schools by providing earthen building trainings. All of the local community schools are excited to learn earthen building so the communities can build their own schools.

In November we also taught a 2 Day Earth Brick workshop to 40 participants from several different communities around Kachin State. During the workshop we introduced the importance of earthen building as a community building process and introduced several topics, including some team building games from Play for Peace. We were able to make several hundred mud bricks and did the first site assessment for the building of the new school.

In January, I will return with our friend Richard, a New Zealand architect working with us who is based in Myanmar and Thailand. Together we will design the new school for the community just outside Myitkyina using Permaculture principles and earthen building. The preliminary design is for 6 classrooms, a library, administration building and play ground.

Since we have left, the community has already made several thousand bricks in preparation for Phase II workshop where we will put in the foundation, site design and put up the walls of the first classroom.

We are very excited for the second workshop scheduled for January 14-19th.

Bamboo Treatment Tank Workshop at Pa-O Monastery in Southern Shan State
As part of our work to support the sustainable development of monastic schools here in Myanmar we will be hosting the first of a series of Bamboo and Earth Building Workshops. On January 8-9th we will be hosting the Bamboo Treatment Tank workshop where we will train builders from all over Myanmar who are working in community development to build treatment tanks. The trainers will come from Thailand and Southern Shan State to build the tanks.

The first tanks will be started in Naung Taung Monastic School in preparation for the 2nd workshop in March where we will be joined by Indonesian trainers to lead the building of the bamboo classroom. Following this initial treatment tank workshop, there will be following workshops in the Dry Zone in Kyaubadaung at Shwenadi monastic school and another workshop in Kachin State so that we will have 3 areas focusing on the treatment of bamboo for sustainable and long lasting building projects. We are looking forward to sharing more about the next training we will be providing from now until March.

We will be working closely with the Head Monk of Shwenadi Monastic School pictured here to set up a Sustainable Training Centre at his monastery and to work with his students to make it an Eco Temple.

Head monk of Shwenadi changing to eco monastery
Head monk of Shwenadi changing to eco monastery
Site of New Sustainable Training Centre at Shwenad
Site of New Sustainable Training Centre at Shwenad
Kachin children in making mud bricks for school
Kachin children in making mud bricks for school
Democratic Education Forum Part III Kachin State
Democratic Education Forum Part III Kachin State
Pa-O Youth Empowerment Training in Shan State
Pa-O Youth Empowerment Training in Shan State

Links:

Sep 30, 2015

7th Report for Teacher Trainings in Rural Myanmar

Morning assembly with head monk
Morning assembly with head monk

7th Report for Rural Teacher Training in Myanmar
September 16th , 2015

Dear friends, family and supporters of our Teacher Training Programs in Myanmar,

It is the middle of the rainy season here in Myanmar and we continue to support teachers and students through our programs. Although the rainy season brings a slight lull in our trainings due to the weather, we have stayed quite busy. We are excited to share with you some of the most recent developments in our training programs to support the teachers and youth here in Myanmar to gain better access to new tools, techniques, methods and practices which support the holistic development of children.

New Integrated Sustainable Design for Buddhist Monasteries
Together with our colleagues Richard and Cheryl from New Zealand, we have started to support the development of several of the Buddhist monastic schools to become model sustainable schools. Using basic Permaculture (sustainable design principles) and earthen building techniques, we are working with the senior abbots, teachers and students to develop their schools to be designed in a more environmentally friendly manner. Together we are working to set up; new sustainable buildings, alternative power sources with solar, recycling and compost systems, organic gardens, edible landscapes, playgrounds and more. We are working with several other partner organizations to compliment and support their trainings in order to create a handful of model schools throughout the country. Currently we are working with Shwenadi Monastic School in Magway Division in the Dry Zone which works with primarily ethnic Chin children and Naung Taung Monastic School located in Southern Shan State working primarily with ethnic Pa-O children.

Bamboo Treatment, Bamboo and Earthen Building and Resilient Bamboo Forestry 
As part of the work with our friends from New Zealand, we are now working to support a series of on going trainings to be held here in Myanmar to support the further sustainable development of a few of the monastic schools we are working with. Together with partner organizations from Indonesia, we will be starting to host the first series of bamboo workshops in Myanmar.

Training of Trainers (TOT) for Monastic Schools
Together with our partner organizations, Socially Engaged Monastic Schools (SEMS) and Center for Promotion of Monastic Education (CPME) we held our second Training of Trainers. The training brought together alumni from several different teacher training programs to provide further skills training and to better develop their capacity, not just as teachers, but for them to also step into the role of training in order to further spread the new methodologies and knowledge on holistic education.

Testimonial from Teacher Training Participant
"The training has started a real change in me. I had a very traumatic childhood. I was always discriminated against in school; therefore I developed a habit of isolating myself from others. I hated working with others. I know these behaviors are bad but I couldn't help myself to abandon them even when I became a teacher. I used to be sad, feel powerless and cried often. I didn't expect that SEMS training would bring a change in me. At first in the training I couldn't describe how frustrated I was. I didn't enjoy being with other people in the training. But gradually I started to learn and like working with others. I began to enjoy talking with other people. I started to abandon my habit of crying whenever I am frustrated. And I began to see that other people are the same and we all are the same. Actually since my experience of discrimination I have to admit that I hate the Bamar people. But now I can reflect on that and change my attitude. This is one of the biggest changes in my life! Due to the self-awareness training I have learned to change my old attitudes and behaviors."

Upcoming
As the rainy season will come to an end over the next few months, our schedule will get even more busy. We have several trainings already lined up over the next few months, which include: Play for Peace trainers from India to come to Myanmar for one month of training, Brighten Foundation Youth Empowerment and Soccer trainings to be held across the country in November, Earthen Building Trainings to be held in Kachin State to finish kindergarten, further Training of Trainers with partner organizations in Kachin State, Upper Myanmar, further Permaculture and Earthen Building Design for monastic schools.

Head monk "greening" his monastery
Head monk "greening" his monastery
Training Session
Training Session
Sustainable Design for monastic school
Sustainable Design for monastic school
studying in the monastic school
studying in the monastic school
 
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