With the beginning of the new school year in Myanmar about to commence, as we did in 2017, the Esther Project is making the transition to weekend only classes for the duration of 2018. This past week both Esther Project locations completed all relevant coursework in both English and computer training for all classes, and exams are scheduled to be administered this week to test the proficiency of the students at this point.
For the final week of daily classes for the year, in addition to testing, we are bringing in guest speakers to conduct seminars with our staff, students, and the community about Child Policy and Laws. In response to the attempt to take two of our girl students, and to the growing issue in Myanmar regarding abusive behavior towards women and girls, we have also scheduled a seminar for the girls in the Esther Project to educate them about concerns and dangers that they face. Another seminar is scheduled for the boys to help them learn more about how they best can show respect and protect girls/ their sisters from abuse.
We look forward to the opportunity to continue the vital work ahead of us in providing the skills and training for these children over the remainder of the year and for years to come.
It is such a blessing to have an opportunity to educate these children, who are committed to doing everything they can to overcome the tragedies of their past and are striving towards having a promising future. I have no doubt that the Esther Project is addressing one of the biggest needs of Christians led orphanages in Yangon. We are thankful to God for His protection and provision during these past months and for protecting the orphaned children through the various trials they have faced.
On behalf of everyone in the project, I would like to say thank you very much for your prayer, supports and encouragements to give hope and a better future for these children. May the Lord bless you abundantly. Please continue to pray for the rest of the year and the ongoing project activities.
Solomon Shwe Oke (Esther Project Myanmar)
From our inception, The Esther Project was created to address the issue that up to 75% of the orphaned in Myanmar when they age out of their orphanages end up doing menial labor, end up as criminals or worst yet fall prey to human trafficking. This past Thursday we were reminded that for the orphaned in Myanmar, a simple bike ride to one of the Esther Project training centers can put you in danger of the latter.
While on their way to the Esther Project two of the teenage girls from one of the orphanages were followed and an attempt was made to take them. By grace, when the attempt was made, it was within a couple hundred feet of the training center, hearing the struggle our staff was able to respond in time to prevent the disappearance of the two girls. Had the attempt been made anywhere else along the girl’s bike ride to the training center, the outcome would have been much different.
A United Nations report has called attention to the sever human trafficking issue in Myanmar, adding that orphaned girls are most at risk. Much of the trafficking of women and girls are for commercial sex work (both in and outside the country, specifically Thailand) or to China for forced marriages (a legacy of the one-child policy).
The Esther Project staff in response to the attempt to take two of our students notified each of the orphanages that partner with us that the students should come to the training centers either in groups or with older male companions. In addition, The Esther Project has brought in outside subject matter experts to teach sessions on personal safety at each of our locations, as well as to conduct training sessions with the caregivers of the orphanages that partner with us.
While our purpose is to teach English and computer skills, we must not only teach our students the vocational skills to prosper, but to provide them the life skills they will need to possess to survive in a country that is going through enormous growing pains as it moves from a military dictatorship to a democracy and in a city that is expected to double in size from 5 million to 10 million residents in the next 20 years.
We work in a messy world, fighting the long-term battle to provide hope to those without hope, community to those who have been abandoned, skills to those who need it most. While it is easy to see all the darkness in this world, to retreat and close our eyes, to believe you can do nothing about it…we engage anyway, and because of those of you who support The Esther Project, we know that this week, two young girl’s lives were protected and changed for the better. This time the good guys won.
“The Esther Project Myanmar has been such immense blessing and life-changing-platform through education in its mission and goal of reaching and serving the underprivileged and downtrodden community.” Rev. Nin Ko
During the past week, I went to visit the Agape Vineyard Orphanage Home, to visit with Rev. Nin Ko, the caregiver of the orphanage to evaluate and get his input regarding the children from his orphanage attending The Esther Project. Rev. Nin Ko informed us that the orphans under his care are very interested and excited about learning English and are very good in their studies. It was pointed out that the students are all very punctual and attentive during classes and Rev Nin mentioned that he only wished they were as excited when they attend their regular school. He and the children asked if additional homework could be given as the children view it as a fun activity to practice their English skills. After reviewing their request, a new plan has been implemented to provide additional home activities for the students over the next several weeks to improve their skills of writing, reading, and speaking.
Under the leadership of our teachers, more responsibility is being given to our students and the second-year students are now given the privilege of helping to lead our students in prayer and conducting devotional programs daily in English, this gives them practice at what they have learned and enhances their skill of listening, reading and speaking in public to boost their confidence and potential. All our students are enthusiastic and willing to take up the challenges being presented to them.
Saya Bawi (Hlegu - Esther Project English Teacher)