Evidence has shown that a good education during children's early years gives them a much better chance to succeed in school, but in many rural areas in Myanmar where I work, pre-schools are almost non-existent, and those that do exist are often poorly staffed and under resourced.
Thanks to child sponsorship, we have been able to work with families in Pathein West to change this. See the pictures below to see the difference sponsorship is making to children and the whole community.
We have now built eleven new Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (ECCD) and refurbished a further eighteen. Because of ActionAid supporters, hundreds of young children can now learn and play in a safe environment.
I’d like to share a typical day at one of these pre-schools by introducing you to Naw Eh Moo and her family. Their lives have been transformed through child sponsorship.
Improving education; improving incomes
Naw Eh Moo, 28, is married to Saw Moo Thaw, 36, and they have a daughter and three sons. Naw Eh Moo runs a small grocery shop and her husband is a farmer. They have three acres of farmland. Their two older children are at school, and their five-year-old son, Say Doh Soe, now goes to the local ECCD centre every weekday from 9am to 3pm.
Naw Eh Moo told us, “It’s important to me that my children get a good education. I wasn’t able to complete my schooling, so I am determined to do everything I can to ensure that my children complete theirs. I don’t want to see them struggle as I have.”
Providing education for children doesn't just benefit them, it benefits their families in several ways too. Now that Say Doh Soe is going to the ECCD centre, Naw Eh Moo only has her youngest son to look after, giving her more time to concentrate on running the family’s small grocery store. She now has a more regular income and can afford to support all her children through education.
Developing through fun and games
ActionAid’s Early Learning Centres are a place where children can play, sing and learn. It helps them develop mentally, physically and socially and provides the building blocks they need to prepare them for school.
An excited Saw Doh Soe, 5, shares, “When I arrive at school in the morning we gather and greet each other. Then we sing songs, learn bible stories, learn differences of colours, the colours of vegetables, play with toys and play outside. In the afternoon, we have lunch, take a break and sleep. When we get up we have snacks, have a roll call, pray for closing today class and go back home. I like singing songs and playing games with my friends the most.”
The outdoor toys built by the parents are not just fun for the children; they are good for their physical development too. They also learn good manners and basic hygeine, such as washing their hands before meal times.
“I see the children changing every day – both physically and mentally. Every day they learn new skills, preparing the children for primary school and their lives ahead,” explained Naw Maria, the local ECCD teacher.
Naw Eh Moo concludes, “Since ActionAid began working in our village, I have been amazed by what can be achieved when we all work together - the ECCD has been our biggest achievement. I am excited about the future of my community, it’s my hope that we can work together to improve our health services next.”
As you can see, child sponsorship makes a real difference to children like these in Myanmar. If you already sponsor a child – thank you for making such big developments like this possible. Why not tell your friends and family what it means to you by sharing this blog?
If you aren't yet a child sponsor but have been inspired by Naw Eh Moo's story then please consider sponsoring a child with ActionAid. It really does change lives, for good.
Photos: Saw Nay Htoo/Susan Chel/ActionAid