KT Care Foundation – 3 volunteer days in Yangon

One day, I found a project featured on Pozible, a crowdfunding website:

IT Literacy for Myanmar rural youth

It sounds quite interesting, so I decided to donate 40$AUD. Everyday I kept checking the website to see whether the project is funded.

Till the end, not enough money to raise. I feel so sad. From the bottom of my heart, I want to do something. I sent an email to Aye Aye Khine, project manager with a request to be a volunteer for the organisation.

My wish was granted. And it started my story at KT Care for 3 days @ Yangon.

KT Care Office at Yangon

2 weeks before the trip, I made a skype call to Aye Khine. Although the project didn’t get enough fund, but the project still continue. My responsibility will be IT support role which create a curriculum of IT skills for the project.

Arriving in Yangon

I arrived to Yangon in a very bad day. I was getting wet in the rain at Khaityo the day before. …4 am reaching Aung Mingala Bus station, the sky was so dark. I looked around and get a taxi to downtown.

I found a guest inn to stay. Calling to KT Care office at 9am, there is someone at the other end of the phone but she seemed didn’t know about my arrival. Whatever,I decide to call a taxi going directly to the office. Later I found out there are 2 persons name Aye Khine in the office.

KT Care

KT Care office locate in Anarata Housing Complex, near by Yangon university. I was assigned a desk to sit and work using my computer. It is the first time I see  an office in Myanmar. Sharing space with 2 other companies at the same level.

KT Care was original an organization from England, a charity organization working in various projects across countries. Starting in Myanmar from Cyclone Nargis 2008, there are many charity organizations’s appearance in this country.

HER project 

During my visit, KT Care Team in Yangon were working closely with BSR, a big charity organisation. One of BSR’s key projects, HER Project, is implemented the first time here. I met 2 pretty ladies, Jennifer and Rosa, who are representatives from BST. Their responsibility is to provide set up and guidance for project launched in a factory in Yangon’s outskirt.

This project aims to enhance women’s heath education among factory workers. More info can be found at this website.

The HER project creates a safety net for factories workers, where they can have their rights protected, have access to training and curriculum, learn about health and gain awareness on women’s health.

KT Care meeting

I got the chance to know more about how this project can impact to daily life of Burmese people. Definitely a eye opening experience in how these programs can benefit a large group of people. The pilot phase will endure for few months, then probably go to other factories. KT Care played a very crucial role in this program locally.

IT Support

Overhere, I worked with Hein Nan, a very young and enthusiastic person. He will go direct to the villages in rural areas to teach the kids of how to use computer and softwares.

As a technology savvy person, I use Skitch (an Evernote software) and PowerPoint to create simple curriculum of teaching MS Office. 3 days in fact was not enough for me to accomplish, but I was satisfied with what I delivered.

At the end, Aye Khine gave me a longyi as a gift. I felt so touched. And I worn it during Barcamp at Pyay.

It was so memorable. Hsu Mon, Rosa, Aye Khine, Namu Abe, Hein Nan, May, Monita. I miss you a lot.

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Myanmar Trip – Moulmein(2)

Myanmar trip – Moulmein(1)

Changing money at airport

Good news: You can use master card to withdraw money from local ATM in Yangoon. Now KBZ and MOB banks supports for this method.

Another good news is now you can change USD/SGD to MMK at the airport. The exchange rate at the time I visited is 1USD = 952MMK. As many people suggested, it is good to change a little money at the airport. To grab good deal, one can find some shops in Aung San Market for better rate.

Phone and Sim card

I cannot find any SIM card 20$USD as expected, but this can be found in any other mobile shop in Yangoon. Instead there were  2 options at the airport

  • Rent phone with normal SIM card 50USD
  • Data SIM only : 60USD

Each has validation time 5 days. Higher price for longer days.

According to the staff there, the data SIM card can be used in various places across the country.

Overnight bus to Moulmein (Maulmyine)

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Arriving to Yangoon, I immediately look for bus at Aung Mingalar station. Since the flight is late afternoon, I know that I have to take the overnight bus to another city. As a friend suggested me, it would be wiser to visit Yangoon at the last day, because there are more attractions at other cities.

That was why I choose Moulmein as my first destination in Myanmar. My first experience: choose an aircon bus. Normally, non-aircon bus will be dirtier and more goods are placed inside the bus.

Already getting enough sleep from the airplane and bus trip, I open my laptop, do some research about Moulmein.

I just afraid of electric cut but it didn’t happened. I already had a list of places to go:

  • U Zina Paya
  • Kyaikthanlan Paya
  • Mahamuni (Bahaman) Paya
  • Shampoo Island
  • Cultural Museum
  • ….

There were so many pagodas to visit. There are some attractions worth to visit that can be visited within a day:

  • Death Railway
  • The Japanese Pagoda: 42mi
  • ThanbyuZayat: 40 mi away
  • Kyaikkami Yele pagoda: 88km

But the whole cost is 50000 Kyat. For a lonely travel like me, it was so expensive. Another cheaper plan was (only cost ~25000 MMK by taxi):

  • Declining Budda
  • Yoe-go village: 5mi from Moulmein.
  • Ta Yat Gone village: (2mi)

In fact, this was the day I took most of my photos.  I waited until 6am and gave a call to Cinderella Hotel. The staff didn’t response my call earlier probably because they were still sleeping.

I called a taxi (actually a bike) to bring me around the city before reaching the hotel.

Photos – Myanmar

I took some photos during my trip in Myanmar. Due to slow internet connection, I couldn’t post photos at the moment. It was an amazing experience and after all, I realize that the power is in the people. The matter is not where I travel, it is whom I travel and meet with.

This is the first post in my series of Myanmar travelling journey.

Myanmar – People

Ideas for Myanmar Project

Imagine that Myanmar is similar to your country 10 or 20 years ago. Not so many cell phones. Its economy just opens up. A lot of manpower in rural areas. Majority of population still depends on agriculture economy. What you can do to help people?

Facts I know about Myanmar:

  • ~60 million people
  • More than 100 languages, the main language is Burmese
  • ~90% population is Buddhist
  • the latest disaster Cyclone Nargis 2008
  • Literacy rate (15-24 years of age)   95.8%
  • Internet penetration rate                0.7 % (majority in major cities)

As a global citizen, I want to think out of my comfort zone. Any ideas are welcomed. You can leave your idea with your name or anonymous 🙂

Idea #1: Water bulb: use chrolophm to bring light to rural areas. This idea is actually implemented in the Philippines. Link: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-SOLAR-BOTTLE-BULB/