The job of teaching as we understand it is different from many jobs that people hold in Myanmar. Jobs in villages are physically draining; before a housewife cooks for her family she must generally trek into the forest, saw down the required wood and lug it back all while avoiding standing on a poisonous viper or twisting an ankle in a crevice. Then there is the setting of the fire, the tending of the fire and the pots to be washed at the river before the oils and MSG seasons the pan.
Farmers work from early light to dusk walking miles, bending and irrigating by hand in much the same way as their grandfather did. Most rural labour in Myanmar is physical and time intensive, leaving little time for imagination, study or reading. ‘Me-time’ in Myanmar would result in a very hungry family.
There is a feeling ingrained into the masses in Myanmar which is that they have been reborn into this state based on their previous efforts. If people give generously to the monastery, they can improve their lot in their next life, but social mobility during the 75 years or so that each person gets to experience during their present life is dutifully ignored.
Life expectancy in Myanmar is low (an average of 66 years). With the top killer being strokes, things such as tuberculosis and influenza are in the top ten causes of deaths while cancers are relegated to the early 20s. Illness is a consideration in Myanmar, where birth weights are typically low and complications in birth leading to a high death rate. For our trainee though, his grandma is 80, supporting the weight of Myanmar’s life expectancy like the drums of petrol filled with water on her head with a steady enduring nonchalance.
Director of Studies and Teacher Trainer
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