Freedom to Education for Young People in Myanmar

by Health and Hope UK
Freedom to Education for Young People in Myanmar
Khai Rili
Khai Rili

Khai Rili was born in Lailenpi Town, Chin State, Myanmar. She is the second eldest of five siblings. Her father is a church leader and her mother works in the post office. As a little girl, Khai Rili dreamed of becoming an arhitect, although she didn't know that was it was called at the time. Thanks to your support for the Freedom to Education project, Khai Rili is on her way to fulfilling her dream - this is her story... 

"I went to primary and middle school in Lailenpi. In Myanmar, Grade 9 and 10 are very important as they are considered the gateway to college or university. Due to this, my parent’s worked very hard to support me to undertake my studies at the age of 15, in Hakha, the capital of Chin State. This was because, in terms of school facilities and teachers, the education system in Hakha is of far higher quality than in Lailenpi. I was able to work hard and, because of my parents' support, I passed grade 10 with good marks.

After passing my matriculation exam I was very enthusiastic to continue my study in India, so that I could improve my English. As I am from Lailenpi town, where Health and Hope Myanmar's office is based, I am very familiar with their work,  and seeing the returning students speak very good English, receiving university education, gaining in their confidence and skills whilst remaining humble and with so much love for others, inspired me and made me determined that one day I will also be like them.

However, education costs are so high that we could not afford it. Even though my parent’s are both employed, their salary is very low and with it they have to provide for all the basic needs of the family, as well as to support the education of my other brothers and sisters. Thanks to the support of the Freedom to Education Project (FEP), I was able to study in India and I have now completed Class 12 successfully. This is possible only because of the love, support and prayer from my family, FEP students, the Health and Hope team and many more who have given me the opportunity and inspired me to work hard. Now, my dream is to continue my study in Bachelor of Architecture. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been interested in drawing and designing houses and gardens. I used to try building small house with sticks, but in these days I did not know that engineers or architects existed, it was just a way I enjoyed playing and having fun in my free time. When I was a little older, I saw my grandfather building roads and houses in and around Lailenpi Town. I used to help by serving tea to the workers and carrying lunch to my grandfather during the day. I really enjoyed spending time on the construction site; helping the workers and watching them build the roads and buildings. At that time, when asked what I would like to become, I used to say ‘Engineer!’, but my friends and relatives always told me that engineering is a manly profession and not for girls so I should consider going into a different career, but it never stopped me from knowing what I wanted to become.

As I got older I heard about doctors, nurses, teachers, business men and engineers but I did not know that these professions have so much branches and sub-specialities. I came to know about Architecture only after studying here in India.  I started researching this profession and finding out about the work that they do. Now I know this is exactly what I would love to do and was similar to what I used to play at when I was a little girl! 

No-one from Lailenpi is trained in engineering or Architecture. We build roads and houses without any planning and as a result we sometimes destroy the landscape and natural beauty of our land. My future plan is to help plan the development of villages, towns and cities from the initial stage and onto transforming them into beautiful liveable areas, enhancing the landscape and natural beauty of our land. I want to ensure roads and houses are built which will not be easily destroyed by landslide and earthquakes and to preserve and protect our rivers, streams and forests etc.  My elder brother and four of the other FEP students are also studying civil engineering in India and in China. Together I believe that we will be able to make a huge contribution to the development of our land, state and country."

Thank you for your continued support. It is making such a difference to the lives of young people like Khai Rili!

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Miss. Elizabeth
Miss. Elizabeth

Through the help of our Education for All project, Elizabeth has been given the opportunity to study for a university degree in medical laboratory technology, a vital medical discipline that is lacking in western Myanmar.

Having grown up in an orphanage she is grateful for the opportunity to receive an education and is looking forward to using it to serve her community. Elizabeth is undertaking her internship year in Myanmar and is due to graduate in August 2019.

“My future plans have not changed since I first had this opportunity to study. Chin State in western Myanmar is an area which is under-developed because of its geography and difficult history. We need to inspire the people and provide education on health as well as on the prevention of disease. By cooperating with communities, we can share knowledge and improve lives. We need the participation of the rural people themselves to meet the needs of their own communities. It is my future plan to serve the people in Chin State and I pray and hope I can share the knowledge I have learnt throughout my studies with my people when I return.”

With your help, Elizabeth and many others like her are on track to receive further education equipping them to serve their own communities in the future 

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Meipaw - FEP medical student
Meipaw - FEP medical student

Meipaw is one of 47 young Burmese men and women currently completing higher education thanks to Health and Hope's Freedom to Education (FEP) programme. He is 22 years old and comes from Chin State, Burma (Myanmar).

Growing up, Meipaw and his friends faced many challenges in their attempts to access education, including natural disasters; food insecurity; teaching in non-ethnic languages and a lack of qualified teachers.

These challenges, combined with the highest levels of household poverty (73%) in Burma, mean that, by the age of eleven, 18% of Chin children have already dropped out of school and, even among those who stay on, only 8% manage to pass their grade 10 exams in rural areas, where poverty is greatest. 

Despite these difficulties, Meipaw was determined to train as a doctor, spurred on by the lack of medical care and facilities in his community that had led to the unnecessary death of his grandmother from easily treatable diarrhoea.

Meipaw worked hard at school and passed his grade 10 exams, but unfortunately his parents just weren't able to afford to send him to college. On average, a family in Chin State can only afford $40 per month to support their children through education, however it costs $250 per month to study at university and $500 per month in medical college, pushing university education out of reach for most rural families.

Fortunately for Meipaw, Health & Hope were able to help. Our Freedom to Education Project (FEP)  provided financial and peer support for Meipaw.  After completing an internship he was able to attend college in India and, following the successful completion of his grade 12 exams, was able to secure a scholarship with Prospect Burma to study medicine in China. 

On his first visit back home in four years, Meipaw sat down with us to tell his story. The interview is shown here on YouTube.

The impact of our education project is much wider than the individual stories of our students. Health and Hope believes that education is crucial in building long-term sustainable development in Myanmar, raising levels of social awareness, critical thinking and preparing future leaders to be catalysts of a fair and equitable society. 

Our first four FEP graduates returned home in 2017 and many more will follow over the coming years. Their desire is to use what they have learnt to support the next generation of young people in their home communities. 

We are harnessing this passion to launch a new education project in 2018. Later this year, our returning graduates will provide teaching and mentoring to younger students in Chin State and will also begin the task of translating textbooks into local languages, making it possible for young people to read and learn the necessary material to pass their own exams.

Since we launched our FEP programme, we have offered 85 students the opportunity to pursue higher education.  Through our new project we hope to provide many more with the gift of education, preparing them to take an active part in the social and economic transformation of their home communities.

Meipaw is grateful for your support, and so are the many other students that we are partnering with through your support to this project.

Thank you

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Organization Information

Health and Hope UK

Location: Chorleywood - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @_healthandhope
Project Leader:
Chris Jones
Chorleywood, United Kingdom
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