Myanmar: A magical and heart-warming journey
Chapter 1: Getting ready for the AMAZING VISIT
After the orientation and briefing at World Vision's office, I started racking my brain for gifts for my dear little brother (my sponsored child). What size should I get for him? How tall is he? Will he enjoy some eduational toys? Shall I get a school bag for him? What kind of bag will it be? I started surveying the different bookstores to compare the products. After weeks of brainstorming and shopping, I finally got all the gifts ready as I packed them excitedly into my luggage.
Chapter 2: Landing in Myanmar and learning more about the communities in the Area Development Programme (ADP)
Once we reached the airport, we hopped onto a van that will bring us to Hpa-An. The whole journey was a bumpy and exciting ride and took almost 7 hours, with a stop in between for lunch. Along the way, we took photographs of the beautiful scenery – the houses, mountains and fields, not forgetting the breath-taking sunset. All of us were captivated and deeply inspired by it!
Over the next 2 days, we learnt more about the different projects in the ADP and visited the different communities. We visited a kindergarten with adorable young children. We also visited a group of youths who were sincere and full of drive. I felt their passion to do more for their community, even at their young age. Besides this, we also visited a rice paddy field and a fishing village where the people received trainings and advice from the World Vision staff on the ‘how to-s’.
These visits were very meaningful as it gave us insight into where our contributions were going to. To personally be “in” the impact is a very enriching and inspiring experience that no words or photos can fully describe. It was the sincerity and friendliness of the Burmese that touched my heart deeply. Wherever we went, we were always greeted by smiles. Even though I was a foreigner, I didn’t feel like one; I felt a connection with the people although we might not understand each other’s languages. Sometimes, it’s the smiles and head nods that communicate the thoughts, not spoken words.
Besides visiting the community, we also had fun at several places of attraction – catching the sunset at a temple, taking the view of Hpa-An from a Pagoda etc. Sometimes we had Burmese food, while other times we had Chinese or Thai food. Each meal was yummy and every dish was uniquely special. During mealtimes and on the van when we were traveling from place to place, we got to know each other better and deep bonds were forged.
Chapter 3: Meeting My Little Brother Finally, the most anticipated day arrived when I got to meet my little brother, my sponsored child. He was extremely shy initially. I started by giving him the gifts one by one, explaining with the help of a translator what they were. He was beaming and this warmed my heart to know that he truly appreciated them. We pasted some stickers together in an animal book, coloured some wooden tags together, decorated a scrapbook and played Jenga. Thereafter, we set off for the Mini Zoo. My little brother loved animals (just like me!) and he loved taking photos with them too. Before leaving the Zoo, we had fun at a playground where we took turns to push one another on the swing. We had lunch after the mini excursion. That was when we bid goodbyes. Although we were both tearing, we continued to smile at each other.
In those few hours, very little words were spoken between my little brother and I, but we used finger-pointing and head nods to communicate. Language is not a barrier at all – it is powerful and helpful, no doubt, but it doesn’t replace the care and love we show through our actions and even simply through smiles. A picture paints a thousand words, but a smile can touch the heart a thousand times (maybe even more).
I am very thankful for this trip and to all who were with us on this trip. I wish that there will be more child sponsors out there who will one day receive the smile that touches your heart a thousand times (or more).