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English (UK)

A year in the Golden Land

Letter of Silvia Bonotto, from Myanmar, 5 September 2009

As in a fairy tale, my history begins in a “far far away Country”. This is Myanmar, a Country bordering on India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand. How did I get here? Well, I simply work. A year in Myanmar with New Humanity, with the goal of managing some projects aimed at supporting rural communities and disabled...this is my challenge!

As I arrived here, two months ago, I immediately met the first obstacles. Though, I almost have the sensation of being in my hometown, even if I know that it’s only a sensation due to the kindness of everyone I meet. My work consists in coordinating New Humanity’s activities in Taunggyi. The ongoing activities have the goal of improving the life standards of the rural communities, helping them to become self-sufficient through the learning of new agricultural techniques, the establishment of an Agricultural Service Centre, in order to enable the farmers to access to fertilizers and seeds, the water supply, the construction and restore of schools, the continue assistance to disabled.The village of Taunggyi, where I live, is located in the hearth of Myanmar. Almost 100.000 inhabitants, it’s a nice small city, rounded by mountains and leant on a 1400 high plateau. It’s nothing special, but it allows me to breath the real Myanmar. I feel fine here: it’s a quite place, surrounded by green hills. There’s a Buddhist Monastery near my house and I can hear the chanting prayers of the monks. Sometimes they wake me up at 4 in the morning, but it’s nice to listen to them, to get lost in these sounds, sometimes a bit boring, but symbol of the big spirituality of this people.I often find myself admiring the children, with their shy smiles and the face decorated by the Tanakha (a natural cream both protective and decorative), the women with their traditional dresses, those endless burdens over their shoulders, their long dark hair, often tied up in long braids or charming chignons. And the men, with their cigars and the mouth red because of the betel juice, that stay bent on the streets for hours, talking about everything. And as Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai said, behind their simplicity and quietness you can find a stream of emotions.Only living with them, observing their life style, you can understand that indeed there’s a stream of emotions hidden behind their calm behaviours. Then you can perceive feelings that it’s not appropriate to manifest, weaknesses that they don’t want to show.At the beginning I thought that it was impossible to get used to their long silences, their slow but full of meanings attitudes. It’s so hard to gain the friendship of a person in Myanmar. Unfortunately this is Myanmar...every person doesn’t trust the new, the different; and this I have tested several times on my skin. You need time to become friend of a Burma, as a farmer that patiently wait for his crop. Well, I’m the farmer: I seed, sometimes I harvest and my heart is filled with joy, sometimes I watch powerless my crop dying.

 

And the challenge goes on….

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