Visit to a Karen Orphanage in Myanmar (2013)

It was very fortunate of us to have met this one kind soul Ma Si – she went to the same hair cutting classes Pres and I attended.   She is from Myanmar.   In one of our classes, Ma Si approached us and said she comes from one of the many orphanages in Myanmar and would love to invite us to come visit!

Ma Si with nephews in Myanmar

This is Ma Si with me and her charming nephews!

We wrote to her father, Saw Ar Bee – he’s the pastor in the Karen Baptist Church in Southern Shan State, Kalaw, Myanmar who manages the orphanage Ma Si is from; told him of our intention to come and spend some time with the kids and that we’d be delighted to give them hair cuts on our visit.

Saw Ar Bee took Ma Si in, gave her a home, and sent her to school.  Ma Si could not thank him enough, she told us.

The moment Saw Ar Bee said yes, we immediately rebooked our December tickets and flew to Myanmar a month earlier than as planned – Christmas in November with the kids at the orphanage!   Ma Si’s employer let her go home to Myanmar for a short break that same week!

Saw Ar Bee Myanmar

Pastor Saw Ar Bee with Pres+Ivy.  This photo was taken in front of their church.  Saw Ar Bee’s daughter gifted us with longyi, a traditional garment in Myanmar and we wore this during their church service.  Very comfy but not easy to do the twist knot in front to gather it around the waist!

This was our first time in Myanmar, first time to visit an orphanage there, and first time to do children’s hair cuts!  And we were surprised the kids had no qualms having their hair cut by total strangers – cool kids!

hair cut collage 1

Hair cutting day 1

hair cut collage 2

We don’t speak their native Karen language but children would just have their own sweet ways of connecting to people!

hait cut collage 3

Pres and I wore shirts with the Philippine map on our chests and were surprised that the kids were able to recognize it.  They dragged us to their study, pointed to this creased map mounted on the wall, and started pronouncing Phi-lip-pines.  Then they pointed to Myanmar that had its old name Burma.

Ma Si’s biological mother kindly invited us over at their place in the village, some 5 hours away from the orphanage.  We took a truck to get there with Ma Si and friends.

Truck to village

We were very happy to see everybody with smiles on their faces, offering us to have bread and coffee at their homes.

Myanmar Village 1

These people do not have electricity and tap water in their homes nor cemented roads in their village and depend mainly on their own produce for food but seem very happy and content.

Myanmar Village 2

Ma Si struggled to translate in English so the people in the village could converse with us, but that didn’t get in the way of them letting us in their homes and for a moment, in their lives.

The orphanage is a 13-hour bus ride from Yangon City but the trip was all worth it!   The kids serenaded us with some Karen gospel song before we headed back home.

Hair cutting day 2


ASIDE:  We met these cute little monks in some floating temple in Myanmar.  We were told by the locals we’re (not sure if just the women) not supposed to touch a monk’s head so I asked the boy if he’d let me cut his hair, he said it’s all right, he would not mind but he just had his haircut in the morning!

lil monks


Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity and fear of others.  Never decide to do nothing just because you can only do little.  Do what you can.  You would be surprised at what “little” acts have done for our world.” – Steve Maraboli