Medicine and Heartfelt Support

In January we offered some support to Daw Wato, one of the helpers at the monastery whose daughter (Ma Sandar Win) had undergone an operation. She had had to go into debt to pay for it and we were happy to relive her of this burden. All seemed well.

Ma Sandar Win and her son in 2017

But in March, she came to me (Ayya Virañani) again with the bad news that the symptoms had returned, and worse. A local doctor had tentatively diagnosed a malignancy, and Ma Sandar Win was admitted to the oncology ward a nearby government hospital for further testing and treatment. The diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma came back, followed immediately by a round of chemo treatment.

Anyone who has lived with cancer knows the special hell realm of worry, uncertainty, and discomfort that it entails. The medical system in Burma being what it is right now, all of that is even worse. And it is expensive even here – costs quickly added up for basic tests at the government hospital, and more advanced imagery at a private hospital (where you can’t walk through the door for less than the equivalent of 100USD).

So we were very glad to be able to offer some support to ease Daw Wato’s concern about how to pay for the necessary treatment. She has been unfailingly helpful to us and now it was our turn to offer her and her family some ease and heartfelt well-wishing.

Fortunately Ma Sandar Win was discharged right before I flew to Europe. So she, Daw Wato, and a veritable posse of supportive neighbors came to say thank you. In spite of the intensity of the chemo, she was feeling better than in a long time, without the symptoms that had been bothering her. Since then, Daw Wato keeps me updated by Viber and so far so good: the blood tests are improving and she has done another round of chemo, with four more left to go. We feel for her as she does this intense treatment and cross our fingers that she goes into remission!

Her thanks to us are thanks to you. One less bit of suffering in this world is no small thing.

Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Medicine and Heartfelt Support

Another Set of Wheels

Just before Ayya Virañani left for Europe, we offered a wheelchair to one of the older nuns at CMMC. She has lived for many years at both Chanmyay Yeiktha and our centre, helping yogis in innumerable ways. But a few years ago she had a mild stroke, making walking difficult. All this time, through Covid until quite recently, she has bravely and patiently made a couple of rounds of the compound each day just to keep mobile. In the last months she has been increasingly weak and unable to walk much – so she has no longer been able to be part of the community. After we bought the wheelchair for the youngster from Thaleba, we realized that we could also buy one for Daw Janesei. The result has been so gratifying, a truly joyful thing. Now Sayalay Janesi is part of the wider world outside of her room, able to meet people and enjoy the garden again. It is heartwarming and beautiful to see!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Another Set of Wheels

Started…Going

As I was going through a box of files in Burma, I came across some old photos from 2008. Fifteen years have passed, and so much has changed – in large part because of all the support of Metta In Action friends from around the world. It brought so much joy, to see the tangible results of all our – your – generosity!

So for your inspiration…how it started/how it’s going:

Sasanasukhacari Laputta Nuns, 2008. The shadow in the background is the precariously leaning side of their bamboo building, damaged by Cyclone Nargis.

Sasanasukhacari Laputta Nuns, 2022, Nuns heading to high school with their schoolbags over their shoulders, in front of their comfortable and secure two-story brick building.

Appamada Nunnery, Daw Sumanacari with family and helpers with the hostel and water tank rebuilt after Cyclone Nargis, 2008:

Appamada Nunnery and the thriving school Daw Sumanacari has built there, 2022:

These changes and many more in other nunneries have come from 15 years of steady support – long may the work of these very special women prosper!

Ayya Viranani

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Started…Going

Gifts of Support

Thanks to your open-handed generosity this year, we were able again to bring significant donations for nuns and the wider community in Burma. Given current conditions of displacement and uncertainty, that support has been even more important than in previous years – there has been a cumulative effect of recent shocks, so the amount of need and costs have risen together. More people require support, and everything is more expensive.

So we are delighted to let you know that we have just completed our distributions for 2022-23, and will be posting detailed updates soon. We wish you could see for yourself the relief and joy your generosity has caused. A few photos will have to do for the time being, coming to you with heartfelt thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Gifts of Support

Breathing and Sharing

As I write this at the end of 2021, there seems no end to the global challenge that is Covid-19. Looking back on older posts feels like a visit to another universe, one that was freer, more open, and simpler. Conditions here are of course made even more difficult by events that began unfolding in February this year. All for this has made our work both more necessary and much more complicated. Every step is harder – from getting your donations here to the distribution of them.

Because of Covid, I rarely leave the monastery; donors come here or send someone to receive the donation. So the joy of visiting the many nunneries nearby is one that must for now be put off. But in spite of everything we are pleased to have successfully distributed the generous contributions you sent last year, and I am in the process of distributing this year’s donations. We say this every year, and every year it is true: your generosity is amazing, and needed more than ever. It is safe to say that is more true now than it has ever been.

On the updates page you will find a link to a PDF of our most recent update. We offer our profound thanks and wish you and yours a happy and healthy New Year!

Nuns from Nwe Kwe Nunneries
Dana for a new roof
Sayadaw U Indaka oversees distribution of MIA food dana for villagers from Laudaunkan and Kontalabaung
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Breathing and Sharing

Sharing, Sharing, Sharing!

Each year we converge here in Burma, bringing donations from all the corners of the world. So in October the ‘MIA Bank’ begins to fill up. And then as the year moves on, we gradually draw down the balance to zero. So yesterday was ‘Zero Day’ for 2019-2020; we joyfully offered what remained (as well as some very generous donations that had come in during the CMMC metta retreat) to Metta Yuwa School near Kyaiaklo Pagoda in Yangon.

IMG_7273

It was a joy to ‘breathe out,’ offering every last kyat of our donations to such a worthy recipient. It seemed so apt to be kneeling beneath the enormous green Buddha in Daw Yuzana’s reception room – under the gaze of this beacon of wisdom and compassion – while remembering all the many donations this year. Each person we give to is making a tangible difference to many lives, and each works endlessly for love and kindness, rather than from a desire to make money. So every one of your donations has been food for the heart, for someone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Daw Yuzana was especially grateful, as she has just lost three teachers to a private school that could offer them a much better salary. She is sad to lose them, because they will be very difficult to replace: teachers who have both teaching skills and metta are rare! Both are requirements to work there, with metta being equally important as pedagogical skills

Private schools charge a lot of money and can pay top salaries, so of course free schools such as Daw Yuzana’s will never be able to compete. And as the cost of living here continues to go up, teachers will be increasingly hard to retain.

So as long as we can continue, we will keep doing our part in allowing this flow of metta, beginning now to breathe in, and come October breathing out again…

We happily offer a huge “Thank You” from our side, and are joyfully sharing the abundant merit! Together, we all did a good thing, many good things! By virtue of this, may all beings in all directions that they may have happiness and be free from suffering~

Amya, amya, amya, yudaw mukya ba koun lo, sadhu sadhu sadhu! (Sharing, sharing, sharing ~ may all beings partake of this merit! Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sharing, Sharing, Sharing!

Lost and Found

We hear stories all the time when we make offerings at nunneries.
And many of them are familiar — the usual small sad tragedies followed by rescue and happy endings.

But we heard a story when we offered at Sasanaramsi Nunnery that was…well…different. And it has a happy ending.

The nuns all go out on almsround together twice a week into the city. Generally everyone is quite disciplined, walking closely together in single file. But many of these nuns are just kids — and with kids, anything can happen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So in this case what happened is that one of the little 7 year-old nuns became separated from the rest and got totally lost. She found a nunnery and went there for help but did not know how to describe where home was, besides “Mingaladon.”

Which is a 41 square-mile township, with hundreds of nunneries.
Within easy walking distance of Chanmyay Myaing Meditation Centre alone — in this little girl’s general neighborhood — there are almost 30 nunneries! (Here is a modified version of an old hand-drawn map I made in 2008, with the pink dots being nunneries in the neighborhood in addition to the eight numbered ones on the map. The bigger red dot is her nunnery.)

Nunnery Map

So since “Mingaladon” didn’t narrow down her address any, of course the kind stranger nuns took the little girl in — while at the same time the Sasanaramsi nuns were desperately searching everywhere for her. Unable to find her they finally went home, downhearted and very worried. They continued to make inquiries everywhere they could think of, and looked for her every time they went out.
For a whole month.

Then one day when all the nuns were out in the city on their almsrounds, just by chance everyone found each other while they were walking in opposite directions down a busy street. It was a very happy reunion, and a lucky ending of what could have been a much more forlorn story. Now the nuns laugh about the experience, but it was clearly trying for everyone involved.

Going out for alms is exhausting, and sometimes it’s a risky business (when it involves crossing busy roads). But while we could never have imagined it, getting lost occasionally happens too.

As does getting found.

Fortunately this is Burma, and she was a nun. So the little girl in the middle of this story didn’t end up sleeping on the street, nor did she meet up with dangerous strangers. She was offered shelter and kindness, and taken in by other nuns as one of the family.

And then miraculously, she found her way home.

‘Happily ever after’ is a myth. But sometimes even ‘happily for now’ is a wondrous thing.

Sadhammaramsi (1)

Young nuns returning from almsrounds, safe and sound

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Lost and Found

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things…

Here is a post with a minimum of words!

As we prepare to go to Upper Myanmar to continue to make offerings up there, those of us who are taking photos have chosen our favorite ones from the last week or so to share with you — some impressions from our days of offering here in Yangon.
Enjoy!

Greg’s favorites:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Virañani’s favorites:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ariya’s favorites:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on These are a Few of Our Favorite Things…

High and Dry

The work that Burmese nuns do is wonderful, inspiring, sometimes surprising, and always a source of joy. Yesterday we went up to the village of Nwe Kwe, to a group of nunneries that we have been supporting for a decade.

In the last 5 years or so, these nuns have had to deal with repeated knee-deep flooding during the rainy season, because nearby construction has blocked the natural drainage of the land. Here are some screenshots from videos they showed us of some to the flooding this year:

Mitigation of the flooding proved to be impossible, so all but three of the nunneries have sold their land and houses to the nearby factory (whose fill is causing the flooding!), and bought higher plots of land in the same neighborhood. Though that meant they had to start from scratch, everyone agreed that it is so much better to be living in a construction site and free of flooding than to be in a place that floods all the time. One said with a huge smile, “Now we are free of the water!” It is an immense relief.

So after years of modifying the structures they already had, the nuns have gone back to square one. Some important things have been salvaged from the old places, but without any sentimentality; more tangible is the potential and excitement that comes with a new dwelling. One by one, the head nuns proudly showed us around, delighted and amused by our surprised responses to see what they have managed to do in such a short period of time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It will take years for the nuns to completely finish building, because they have to raise the money as they go. No-one complains, though. Yes, they are living in construction sites, but the transformation is totally worth it.

The most amazing change is at Aye Mya Yaungkyi Nunnery. Where before two nuns lived together in a dark and cramped little house, now there are two buildings each with two stories on a much larger piece of property — and 11 young nuns. For years they made do with what they had, and it was far from ideal. Now everything is new and they will be able to train the many new young nuns in wonderful conditions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We will be putting up more posts over the next few days as our workload settles down. There is much to share — because your donations are touching many people! For now here are more photos of the Nwe Kwe nuns, high and dry at last!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on High and Dry

For These Nuns, It’s a Happy New Year

We wish you a Happy New Year~

And a successful one — may all your endeavors and aspirations be easily accomplished, just like those of the young nuns from Sayanagonyee Nunnery. Six took an oral and written exam in Pali Grammar, and six passed, some with distinction.

It’s a wonderful start to the year!

IMG-affe5e06bee56a5de7e96dec7360572c-V[1]IMG-d506d753c5e364cac091e604a62ff30d-V[1]IMG-acd8d7d753fc4998743537fbba9219f3-V[1]IMG-4f0672da09642b9a9f8df9313f730a8b-V[1]IMG-59e901c3426d69503812a70b56ce4cbf-V[1]IMG-28719456d582ac82e49630b57786effe-V[1]IMG-0fe21af011b559de16d40fef12a51556-V[1]

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on For These Nuns, It’s a Happy New Year