Greetings from Myanmar- the land of a thousand smiles. I have just finished up creating a composting system at a monastery and meditation center that runs a school that is a 6 hour boat ride from Mandalay. First off- their farm is amazing. They grow food for the community, yogis & meditation students, and students at their private school. The school system in Myanmar is in shambles and this amazing abbot of the monastery created a school to augment their mandatory (though very deficient) education. School is only mandatory till 7th grade, so they boat them down the river to the only “special” high school near their small village. They wanted to create an additional private school that could teach them some real academic skills. Their classes run from 4am-7am & 6pm-10pm. They must use a generator to run a single light bulb for each class. It’s quite a sight to see them huddled in the dark studying for exams. Their 11th grade year is spent studying for 1 test that they must pass to get into college- crazy! I had a blast volunteering in the school teaching some English and helping out where I could.
But a bulk of my time was spent building a 3 stage compost bin & a “green cone” food composting system. In Myanmar, they burn everything- there is no garbage pickup, recycling, or composting in villages outside the cities. So we paid some carpenters to work their magic weaving bamboo and doing amazing woodwork. The farmers really do amazing work already, but with a composting system also, we thought that they could be unstoppable. We couldn’t have done it without help from a fellow teacher in Myanmar- Florent- his translations made it all happen. My brother Chandler was also here helping too- so it really has been a community effort. FYI- this project was for by a grant that Orca got 2 years ago! We also donated $100 to a garden fund for the farmers to continue to grow organically & sustainably. We also paid $50 to have the carpenters build 7 giant bookshelves for the classroom- Their supplies were beyond limited, but this will help them organize what they have better.
We also made a green cone system underground for their organic waste from the kitchen- only fresh fruits and veggies.
We built some bean/squash teepees with bamboo also. We got some strangle looks from building these huge structures- but they are gonna look amazing when grown (we hope).
But maybe the best part was the people. The people here are just experiencing a new found freedom and hunger for democracy that is finally being quenched. after so many years of a brutal military dictatorship- they are finally seeing change. But honestly- life in small villages in the countryside has changed little in 100 years. But I have been welcomed into so many homes for tea, and it’s been a blast speaking in broken Burmese to people in the friendliest country I have ever been to. There is also an amazing spiritual energy with all the Buddhism here. Every morning at 6am at the monastery, I joined the monks on a silent procession to breakfast. My own journeys through meditation here were quite profound and really helped me shape this project.
So that’s it- we hope to get some updates & pictures of the garden and compost system as it gets up and running. As the Burmese say “Ta Ta!”