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We are pleased and grateful to report that by the end of 2017, BSB will have finished nine new schools for a total of 30 since we began. We continue to be inspired by these communities’ desire for and commitment to better educational opportunities for their children. Despite poverty and the daily struggle for life’s necessities, community members donate land, labor and materials to make each school possible. Thousands of students now attend BSB sponsored schools throughout Myanmar, and thousands more will learn in them in the future. As a start-up nonprofit competing with other worthy organizations for donor dollars, we never dreamed of building nine schools in a single year. The next article, Profiles in Philanthropy, describes an important factor in achieving this milestone, and then continue to read about The Rohingya Refugee Crisis and Our Work

Check out our website to read more about our schools and the absolutely delightful kids they serve.

Profiles in Philanthropy

Build a School in Burma (BSB) has been very fortunate in attracting donors who want to fund or sponsor entire schools. We wanted to learn more about what motivated them to this level of generosity, so we asked four school sponsors to share their thoughts – what’s their connection to Burma and why choose to build a school as opposed to healthcare or one of myriad other needs? Together, they have sponsored eight schools directly or by providing or raising matching funds.

First, we asked what led to their decision to fund an entire school.

Lesley Lee and Jackie Cheung funded Pon Khet Primary School.
Lesley grew up in Burma and we have always wanted to help Burmese kids in a remote area. However, until we came across your organization through an Internet search, we never had a proper channel to do so. We think that education is the best gift that you can give to someone. We also want our money spent directly to benefit program rather than administrative costs, and BSB met that criterion.

Dan Kipp, along with Shirley Lowe, funded Htone Gyi Middle School and Ohn Chuang Secondary School; Dan funded Tar Lu Pa Taw Middle School.
The seed was planted after reading the book "Three Cups of Tea" and then cycling through Burma. I realized that a school could be built for about the price of a new car, so Shirley Lowe and I decided to donate a school. I found BSB from an Internet search as well as a referral from a videographer for a documentary on Burma.

Casey Ellis’s gift built Kyar Ni Kan Primary School.
While on a biking trip through Burma, I fell in love with the Burmese people, especially the children. I thought perhaps I would try to build some houses for them. By chance, I saw an article in my local newspaper about BSB and literally leapt out of my chair.  At that moment, I knew I wanted to build schools. I had also been wanting to create a memorial for my father who loved children and greatly valued education.

Aye Moah, co-founder of Boomerang technology company. Boomerang has funded two schools, Pwe Hnyet San Primary School and Mahasala Monastic Middle School.
Years ago, the co-founders of Boomerang committed to donate a portion of our company's profits to educational efforts in Burma, where I grew up.  Boomerang became profitable in 2013; since then I have looked for potential projects to sponsor every year.  At Boomerang, when we make donations it is more than writing a check. We seek partners that have a direct and sustained impact on a community with a documented need. Boomerang donates to organizations that are knowledgeable AND actively engaged with local communities in Burma. We were impressed with how BSB's mission and execution style are perfectly aligned with ours.

We also wanted to know why they selected those particular schools.
  • For Dan, it was the community's strong desire and need to have a school for its children. It was also important that the school be inclusive of boys and girls, all religions and all ethnic groups. 
  • Lesley and Jackie wanted to create access to education where none was available and to help prevent children from becoming victims of human trafficking.
  • Casey asked only that the school not be hours and hours away from a major city as “I am getting too old for a multi-hour jeep ride followed by a pack mule ride to visit it.”
We wondered what about BSB has kept them involved and how has their involvement been a personal benefit.  

Aye Moah is impressed by the speed and thoughtfulness of BSB as a working partner, and is thrilled that  Boomerang’s donation quickly and effectively made a positive impact. She observed,  “In December 2015, BSB found a village where our donation could build a school. Just months later a brand new school was completed, and it was open in June for the new school year.”

Casey feels that she can make a real difference in some children's lives and that BSB handles her money wisely and with care. She said, “I have experienced deep, deep personal satisfaction and an intense desire to return to Burma to visit the school dedicated to my father.”

Dan believes BSB's efforts are beneficial in various ways: making education possible for many children who otherwise would not have the opportunity, supporting local partner organizations that are also doing good work, and supporting local construction companies and workers. Dan stated “I've witnessed first hand the strong desire of parents that their children have good education, and I experienced the true gratitude and appreciation of the community and the children."

For Lesley and Jackie, it is pure joy to know their goodwill will be effectively delivered to where it is needed most. They told us, “It has been amazing to see the work in progress of building the school and to know that kids will be attending school regardless of family financial situations.”

BSB is deeply grateful to Casey, Dan, Aye Moah, Lesley and Jackie for their generosity of heart and wallet.  Aye Moah and Dan also donate their time as members of the BSB Board.
Dan Kipp joins the class at Htone-Gyi School
Fun in front of the new Pon Khet School
We are deeply troubled by the exodus of Rohingya people to Bangladesh from Myanmar.
For several years, Build a School in Burma has tried to find a way to help promote the education of Rohingya children. We have met with UN agencies, local and international NGOs as well as leaders in the Rohingya community. Due to the constantly changing situation and because the government has banned most NGOs and even UN agencies from Rakhine state, it has been impossible to establish effective relationships with villages and local partners to build a school.With the majority of the Rohingya now in Bangladesh, we are continuing our attempts to work with NGOs helping Rohingya there. One idea is to establish a portable school that could be moved if and when the people move.

In the coming year Build a School in Burma will continue to construct schools in needy communities around Myanmar. Many, if not most, of the children who benefit from these new schools are members of minority groups. Minorities make up nearly 40% of the country’s population. Most continue to suffer deep poverty and discrimination, though their plight does not reach the international press. With your support, we will work to help them improve their lives.
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