The atmosphere, the smells, the authentic hospitality, and the feeling of having gone back in time which assault when you arrive in Myanmar (formerly Burma) do nothing to suggest the fact that you are in one of the oldest civilizations of Asia. Even if the country is slowly opening to tourism and foreign investors, the improvements are mainly on urbanization and the construction of tourist infrastructures, which do nothing to improve the daily life of its 50 million inhabitants. Yet Myanmar is full of surprises. Its natural beauty and its history astonishes: the temples of Bagan, the lakeside villages along Inle Lake, the royal cities around Mandalay, the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the beaches in the south. One can seldom remember the tyranny of the past and the harsh life conditions that plague the Asian nation.
In March 2010, during an initial trip to Myanmar, we met Malay, an exceptional native. Tourist guide, polyglot, teacher, she’s a jack-of-all-trades. She guides travelers in search of authenticity and culture, meeting with the locals, and understanding their joys and hardships. Touring her country with compassion and altruism, she tells us about the daily life of the orphans she meets every day.
Month after month, we tag along Malay’s trips. On the field, she understands the needs of these children and aim to improve their living conditions. Through her perspective, her vision, and her sensitivity, she communicates what needs to be done. Touched by her commitment to help others, her wisdom, and her devotion, we have decided to offer her to head a project that will bring assistance to Burmese children, especially orphans.
In May 2010, through several intermediaries, we were able to send her our first donation, thus helping improve the daily lives of orphans who have been taken in by the Buddhist temple in her village. The money covered school fees, fifty uniforms, ten bags of rice, clothes for the monks, food, a radio, and some cash for the villages along Inle Lake. Malay travels on foot to the most isolated villages and offers clothes and school supplies, especially to the Long Neck women, in the North, where she also gives uniforms. She often visits an orphanage where children sleep on the bare ground, surrounded by insects and filth, and constantly exposed to illnesses carried by insect bites. Malay hired carpenters to make beds that are fitted with a blanket and a pillow.
In May 2014, our project manager, who is based in Switzerland, flew to Myanmar to meet with Malay, to immerse herself in the pure essence of her country, and inspect the different sites. Since, several missions have taken place to decide of long-term goals, and prepare AClem’s future plans in this magical land of legends and secrets.
Since 2010, AClem has financially supported several orphanages, notably by organizing the structures and covering the water, food and salaries of the supervisors. Today, the projects are turning to the construction of a school and an orphanage at Inle Lake, an exclusive site of the country, for 20 children gathered near the city of Taunggyi. The projects in Burma are partly autonomous, thanks also to the financial benefits of the existing guesthouse, “Aloha”.