One of our travel companions, a self-proclaimed “most interesting engineer in the world” from Silicon Valley that goes by the name of Al Martin, has been to Myanmar before. He is what you would expect from an old school engineer, a bit crusty on the outside with a soft heart on the inside, shown only to a select few.
During his previous visit (also with Insiders Asia), his group came upon a small rural schoolhouse for young Burmese children. It was a primary school, grades one through five. These children tugged at his heart. After meeting them, how could they not? They are so poor, but so sweet. If he ever returned, he vowed to bring them something, anything, as a gift. Money is great. It would have helped all of them. But a small gift for each child helps their esteem immediately. So this time Al Martin arrived with colorful pencils, erasers, and small plastic rulers. And being the engineer he is, he did not forget the pencil sharpeners.
Al and I divvied up the pencils and rulers. Our guide, JJ, was tasked with video taping the event. Kathryn was assigned the role of photographer. It was time. As I walked into the first room all the children stood up in a sign of respect and then gave a rousing, “Hello Teacher.” Hearing this exclamation in unison by some thirty-plus students was numbing. Right then I thought about being a teacher. The thought passed bringing me back to reality.
We proceeded to hand out these small gifts to each child, one at a time. I tried to look each one in the eye and smile. What I saw was gratitude and joy. What they gave back me was much, much more than they received. By the end, we were all joking around, fist bumping and playing hide & seek. We ended with applause and cheers. Hopefully, we had a positive impact on these children, they certainly lifted my spirits.
Al opened the door for us to help these children. Now we should take the next step. It’s now time for WorldPix to take over. I will use the proceeds from sales of any of my Myanmar photos to go to Burmese primary education.
It’s all about the light.
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