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July 05, 2020

Many Hands Make Light Work

The word ‘philanthropy’ derived from Greek word “philanthropos” or Latin root “philanthropia” literally falling into two segments “Phil” meaning “Love” and “Anthropos or anthropia” standing for “human beings”. Therefore, it etymologically means “Love of Humanity”. In this sense, the meaning of it goes to the extent of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what is to be human” on both the benefactors’ and the beneficiaries’ parts. According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2014), it is defined as voluntary, organized efforts intended for socially useful purposes. However, the most modern meaning, as Wikipedia defines, is “private initiative, for public good, focusing on quality of life”.
It is said that playwright Aeschylus (525/524 BC- 456/455 BC) (the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists, who raised the emerging art of tragedy to great heights of poetry and theatrical power.) started to coin that word in his “Prometheus Bound” in about 5th Century BC. He depicted the character of Prometheus as humanity loving for the latter’s having given to the earliest proto-human “fire” (symbolizing technological civilization) and “blind-hope” (optimism) so as to save mankind from destruction.
However, there might have been an ambiguity among us as to the demarcated boundary between charity and philanthropy. Sometimes, both tend to overlap to some extent although not all charity is philanthropy or vice versa. To the best of my knowledge, it is commonly regarded that charity relieves the pains of the social problems whereas philanthropy tries to solve them out. Therefore, suffice it to say that, giving away money to a hungry man is an act of charity but showing him or her how to earn it, philanthropy.
It is almost a shame for the author of this article to have carried the topic so far just to bring the reader into notice that Myanmar’s philanthropic organizations are in dire need of the Government’s and the public support although a countless number of marvelous jobs already done on their parts also having proved “fruitful results” to each beneficiary across the country. However, “Many Hands Make Light Work” as a saying goes, there seems a strong possibility for these organization to improve and expand their undertaking if they are endowed with governmental support and other public support. In fact, the philanthropic groups play a pivotal part in the improvement of the heath, educational and social wellbeing of the citizenry in Myanmar. They need donation and cooperation from the public and sponsorship or support in terms of financial, moral or administrative ones and accreditation from the Government in order that they might continue their selfless endeavor without any hindering or backsliding obstacles.
Myanmar is best known to the world for her ever-smiling, incredibly generous and kind-hearted people. According to NPQ (Nonprofit Quarterly) (Written by Ruth McCambridge  on Wednesday, 19 November 2014), the new World Giving Index was released and the findings proved that Myanmar was ranked first for the year 2014 under the category of making cash donation. The comparative data were collected from the surveys conducted in more than 140 countries representing approximately 94 percent of the world’s population. The report described that the United States and Myanmar are tied for the first place. Myanmar’s high rank across all three “giving” categories reportedly contributes largely to her very high rate (91%) of making cash donations. The result is accounted for by the religious traditions of the country and the report said “Nine out of ten people within Myanmar follow the Theravada school of Buddhism, under which the lives of the Sangha (ordained monks and nuns) are supported by Dana (charitable giving) by lay followers of the religion. This clearly translates into a strong culture of charity, with Myanmar ranked first for donating money and 13 percentage points ahead of the second placed country”. In the light of this report, it is clear that Myanmar abounds in a myriad of selfless donors whose generous and magnanimous contributions only require to be properly channeled to the needy so as to avoid “making charity where there is already plenty” reflected by the Myanmar Proverb /jei mja: ja mou: jwa/.
Once, I have come across a certain poem on the Internet composed by a man called Chuck in honor of an American lad who is running across the United States to raise funds for the impoverished children. His program is named “Compassion Run”. It seems that he would run each (750 square miles) of the major four parts of the United States thereby raising public awareness on the childhood poverty issue and in the meantime collecting charity from the supporters on the way. He is from Detroit, Michigan and is only 23 of age. His name is in the poem which reads really moving. The readers can enjoy the poem by visiting the webpage- http://www.compassionrun.org/author/jub/. With the poem, what I want to touch on here is to pinpoint the inflow of the supports in various forms for his Compassion Run. At the time of writing this article, his part one of running has already been brought to completion and part two is on progress.
On the same vein, in Myanmar, with the exception of State-run Hospices and Homes for the Aged, there also is an increasing number of nonprofit organizations that attempt to launch, in their own way, activities that would benefit the poverty-stricken people under the categories of healthcare services, education and other social activities. In addition, there are a few who have been trying to improve the social welfare of people to the highest possible extent each of their ability permits. Such people comprise both lay people and monks such as Ven. Ottamasara of Thanlyin Thabarwa Dhamma Center, Dr. Ashin Pyin Nyaw Bha Tha of Pann Pyo Let Monastic Education School, U Kyaw Thu of Free Funeral Service Society (Yangon) and Daw Than Myint Aung of See Zar Yeik Home for the Ailing Aged”. For want of space, there may be a few other philanthropists left, which does not mean any disrespect towards their selfless contributions. Each of the organizations is set up on the basis of each of its founder’s initiative and operated with the help of well-wishers across the country and abroad. Of them, Thabarwa Dhamma Center in Thanlyin, Yangon has been established by Ven Ottamasara and is a safe and peaceful refuge to over 2400 Yogis including more than 700 old-aged persons with a greater portion of the sick, blind, infirm, deaf, disabled and invalid.  Pan Pyo Let is situated at Kyauktan Village, Bago and founded by Dr Ashin Pyin Nyaw Bha Tha. Since 2004, the Monastic Education School has been creating an access for more than 400 students not only from the nearby villages but from the remote and conflicting areas like Kachin and Shan States. In general, it has been running with the objective of nurturing a better education generation capable of struggling Myanmar out of Poverty Trap. Free Funeral Service Society was established by U Kyaw Thu and Daw Shwe Zee Kwet in collaboration with the famous actor and movie director, U Thu Kha. FFSS started to render FOC funeral services to people regardless of any race, religion and background since 2001. At least 120000 funeral services have been undertaken by FFSS approximately from 2001 to 2012. Commencing from 2003 and 2007 respectively, medical-cost donation to poor people and free healthcare services with Thukha Charity Clinic and Emergency Aids have also been launched. Later, FFSS also started to render free educational and vocational training classes to the poor children and youths. See Zar Yeik is located at 803-805, Mahawthada Road, 12 Ward, East Dagon Myothit, Yangon. It has been established in about 2010 by Writer (Daw) Than Myint Aung and (Daw) Su Htar (Dr Htar Htar) (Both of them are also running “Thu Kha Yeik Myone Humanitarian Center for the HIV-infected Children” established in the same year) with a few other colleagues with a shared interest. It has been welcoming the ailing and old-aged people. Currently, the organization offers accommodation, food and healthcare services to 24 old men and 60 old women with the aid of 53 staff. It is indeed a safe haven for the old and infirm.
All the said organizations and other remaining NGOs are making their own nonprofit and philanthropic ends meet in cooperation with the generous donors, local and foreign. No doubt, their contributions to the society are truly effective. However, the effectiveness will be doubled if the Government is able to see that there is no barrier on the path these organizations are keeping forward for the social welfare of the State administratively with the help of humanitarian law. It is really heart-wrenching to see that some organizations like “Thabarwa Dhamma Center”, are precariously struggling for the survival. Sometimes, I am lost in my own fancy that they could carry on with progressive momentum if they are supported to the possible extent by the Government. I have no doubt that any sensible person in Myanmar would have such idea in common. There lacks, so far, a few brushworks to fill in the Myanmar Humanitarian Picture. I firmly believe that very soon, the able and responsible hands would perfect the Picture by painting these top-down brushworks.
Ref;
–    https://nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/25190-2014-world-giving-index-findings-  ranks-us-in-9th-place-for-donations.html
–    http://www.compassionrun.org/author/jub/
–    http://www.thabarwa.org
–    http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/in-depth/5633-children-with-hiv-find-sanctuary.html?start=1
–    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyaw-Thu
–    Encyclopedia Britannica 2014 Ultimate Reference Suite
–    Merriam Webster Dictionary
–    A Telephone Interview with Cashier U Min Thein of See Zar Yeik Home for the Ailing Aged

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