Reflections on our trip to Myanmar
- Many of the "orphanages" in the cities are not registered and were started with business purposes.
- The children are being used as a bait to ask donations and supports from outside.
- Most of the children in orphanages/institutional care have at least one living parent.
- Children as young as four years old are lured away from their ignorant parents in the rural poor villages.
- In most cases, children have little or no contact with their families, and many will never return to their villages.
- In many institutions, the standard of care is extremely poor and many children are abused and neglected.
- They are often threatened with various threats.
- For all children, long term stays in institutions have lasting negative impacts.
- Most children in those childcare centers have emotional wounds that they are afraid to express.
While we do not have any long-term or concrete solutions, the least we can do is to go to them instead. Go to their villages. One of the troubling components of such trip is the feeling that the need is overwhelming and anything accomplished is just a "drop in the bucket." Short-term trips are by definition a temporary solution to a chronic problem and therefore might be viewed as not making a lasting difference in the welfare of these people.
It's good to remember this quote from Mother Teresa - "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
There is a story about a young boy walking along the beach who happens upon hundreds of starfish that have been washed up and are in danger of dying if left on the sand. He begins to take one starfish at a time and throw it back in the ocean. A man walks by and suggests that the boy is wasting his time because there are too many starfish to save; with all the other starfish in the world, he asks if what the boy is doing "really matters." The young boy holds up one of the starfish and says, "It matters to this one."