As the name goes, it is a real home for the girls who do not have both the parents, who do not have one parent or who are so utterly poor that they have only the streets to live. In former days, such a Home used to be called an orphanage. Nowadays we simply call our home ST.MARY’S Home
A Religious Congregations of Nuns, called, THE SERVITE SISTERS run this Home. The SERVITE SISTERS are a congregation of nuns, organically affiliated to the World-wide Religious Order called SERVI DI MARIA, consisting of Servite Friars and Servite Sisters. The SERVI DI MARIA is a very old Religious Order in the Catholic Church, founded some 800 hundred years ago, now spread over and functioning all over the world. As the name says it all, the main focus of the work of the Servites is to serve mankind, imitating the serving role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Servite Sisters came into existence in India in the 19th century and Servite Community of Sisters came to Myanmar in 1924 and estabilished their presence and service in Kyauktan. ST.MARY’S HOME is in this town, Kyauktan.
Kyauktan, meaning a line of rock in Burmese, is a town almost at the southern tip of the main body of Myanmar, only about 12 miles from the sea. It is about 18 miles south of Yangon. Those wishing to visit this town which is a tourist attraction because of a Pagoda in the middle of a river, will have to travel by bus or private car from Yangon, cross a 2-mile long bridge which connects Yangon and Thanlyin, formerly called Syriam and proceed along the one road that connects Thanlyin and Kyauktan. This road meanders along the southern tip of the Bago Yoma mountain and ends in Kyauktan.
As one approaches Kyauktan, one will notice a WELCOME TO KYAUKTAN sign on an arch across the road. Seeing this arch is a sign that one must slow down and look on the right side of the road, for a sign board, ST.MARY’S, about 300 yards further from the welcoming arch. Enter through this gate and one will be in ST.MARY’S CAMPUS. In one demarcated corner of this campus is ST.MARY’S HOME.
Children without both parents or one parent or children whose parents are so poor that they cannot but leave their children to living on the streets, are accepted and given shelter, food, clothing, and education in government schools. In short, ST.MARY’S HOME is a home for such orphans and poor children. Since this Home is run by Sisters, the Home accepts only girls. Many years ago, the Sisters accepted young boys also but over the years, they found it impossible to handle the discipline for boys. Besides, when the boys became adolescents, the Sisters found it almost impossible to find alternate placements for them. Hence, only girls for the last 30 years.
The Servite Sisters in Myanmar are working in 30 convents, spread all over the country. The Union of Myanmar comprises of ethnic States and Divisions. Those poor or the less fortunate children contact the nearest Servite Sisters’ Convent and ask for assistance. The Sister Superior of the convent concerned will study the request in order to make sure that it is from genuine orphans, or semi-orphans or from the utterly poor. When the Sister Superior together with all the Sisters of the community is sure of the genuineness, the over-all Superior for Myanmar Servite Sisters, called the Servite Provincial for Myanmar, who now happens to be Sister Salette Mary OSM (acronym for Order of the Servants of Mary) will study each request and accept (or) reject.
Right now, there are 120 children belonging to different ethnic races, like Burmese, Arakanese, Chins, both plain Chins and hill Chins, Kachins, Wa, Kaya, Karen and Indian.
Normally,children in Myanmar got to school from the age of 6. So the Sisters accept children from the age of 6; but there are girls who are 9, 10 and above who have to be accepted because they may have lost their parents when they are of that age. One girl was brought to us when she was around this age because suddenly both the parents were thrown into jail for drug crimes.
Children arrive at St.MARY’S HOME when they are 5 years old. At times exceptions have to be made. Why? There are two girls who are sisters; both became orphans; the elder one was able to be admitted in the school and the younger had to stay at home with the Sisters till she reached 5. After Nargis, a younger sister of a girl already at the HOME, had to be accepted even though she was not of age because the parents had been swept away by the flood. By the time these children finish their high school, they will be any where between 16 and 20 years of age. Some girls manage to study well, pass the examinations and become eligible to go to college. The East Yangon University is situated between Thanlyin and Kyauktan and fortunately the Sisters have a convent near this university. Those wishing to go to university are housed in this convent and the Sisters look after them till they finish their university studies. Once they finsh their university studies, the Sisters help the girls to find jobs and stand on their own feet.
The aim of St. Mary's home is to help the girls to stand on their own feet and to get them settle in life. Two girls from St. Mary's home got married and are leading a happy married life. One of these as already got a lovely baby girl. Many of our alumni got employed as nurses, teachers, staff in offices and NGOs and shop assistants. Now and then they come back to St. Mary's home to express their gratitude. Recently, St. Mary's home has given opportunities to few girls to be trained as how to look after the boarding children who are less fortunade. Three grops have already been trained and practically working at St. Mary's home. This is one way, the alumni express their gratitude they owed to St. Mary's home throught the voluntary service. Some of them are engaged in self-support projects of St. Mary's home.
For those who cannot make it up to the high school pass certificate, the Sisters at the HOME, provide them with technical skills, like sewing, knitting, embroidery, computer courses and English courses in order to help them find some jobs, most likely in rural areas. Some are trained for nursing
A great tragedy came to our lives at St. Mary's home on 27 th April 2010. It was the sudden death of our great patron Fr. Singa Rayar who was the founder of St. Mary's home and who worked so hard with his sweat and blood for the systematic, standard and well-estabilished of St. Mary's home. We were totally devastated and still have been mourning over the great loss of our dearly beloved Father. His departure indeed left us like sheep without a sheperd.
We do believe that his spirit is still leading us in many ways. We will work harder to mantain the wonderful legacy left by our founder and patron Fr. Singa Rayar. The dream of our patron and his aim will have to be fulfilled. One of his famous saying is "God helps those who help themselves". He pratically lived accordingly. St. Mary's home is journeying ahead with his encouraging words and with all your support.
br>Many thanks to all of you for your continuos support, appreciation and encouragement.
Here we would like to give an answer that comes from our Christian faith in God and his providential care for orphans, poor widows and the down-trodden.
Many years back when the Sisters were looking after around 30 children only, it happened that the Sisters had no rice to cook for the next morning. Their faith in God and in the intervention of St. Joseph, led them to tie a bit of rice in a piece of cloth and placing it at the feet of St. Joseph, said a prayer and went to bed. The next morning, a Buddhist gentleman came into the compound bringing two 20 kg bags of rice and explained himself this way. “While sleeping last night, I had a dream. In the dream, I saw a line of women dressed in white, walking along the road. It looked like our Buddhist nuns going for alms collection but I realized that they were not our Buddhist nuns because these were dressed not in yellow robes but in white habits. So, I reckoned that these must be the catholic nuns from ST.MARY’S HOME and so I brought these two bags of rice”. Imagination? No. Coincidence? No. Our faith in God tells us that it is His providential caring for the poor through the medium of that Buddhist gentleman and the catholic Sisters at the HOME.
It is also true that God helps only those who help themselves. So, the Sisters have to work very hard to earn the food, clothing, medicines, books and stationary, school fees for all the children, slippers, umbrellas, ball-pens, soaps, lunch boxes etc. Since private tuition is the only way to pass the examinations, the Sisters themselves have to give private coaching besides hiring teachers of repute to give the costly private tuition which in Myanmar is a sine qua non.
ST.MARY’S CAMPUS has a big and good enough land to cultivate and support first and foremost those girls who wish to dedicate their lives as nuns in order to be the hands, mouths, feet etc. of the risen and living Christ and thus continue the work of Christ to the people of today. As a practical demonstration of what it means to be called to be a nun today, those training to be nuns are given practical training at the HOME. The Sisters are working and training the children to grow many kinds of vegetables and many kinds of fruits. They are also running several self-support projects like chicken rearing, fish, goats and pigs breeding. The income from these self-support projects are used to defray partially the high cost of looking after so many children year in and year out.
By sheer dint of hard work, the Sisters earn what they can. The rest of the expenditure is met by donations from generous donors both from within and without. That Buddhist gentleman’s donation of the two bags of rice at a desperate time, has taught us two realities: hard work and trusting prayer. Speaking of hard work, for the Sisters at the HOME, day begins very early in the morning around 4 when they have to begin preparing the morning meal and the 120 lunch boxes which each girl will pick up from the kitchen and walk off to school, some two miles away from the HOME. After children leave for school, the hard work of cleaning the dormitory and washing the clothes dirtied by wetting at night continues till mid-day. When the children return from school, the Sisters have to lead them to work in the garden in order to grow the vegetables needed for the kitchen. The slogan is: the more vegetables you grow, the more vegetables you will consume.
Many benefactors from abroad are helping us with donations big and small. We feel obliged to thank them all and at the same time, mention a few consistent benefactors like the Papal Nuncio’s, particularly His Grace Archbishop Adriano Bernardini and Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio of Bangkok, Fr. David Morland OSB of St. Austin’s in Liverpool, Mark Beaujolin, Chairman of Europe Continent, the Chu Sisters led by the elder sister Jocelyn Chu of Hong Kong and Elizabeth Pouliot also of Hong Kong, Paul Lorda, Laura Lindsay, Aidan and Frances Murphy, Dr. Robin Chan, Edward Norfolk, Louis Greig, Lord and Lady Lavandish and Francesca White, Servite Friars of Europe etc.
Please send your donations to:
Bank: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) limited
1/F 9 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
SWIFT Code: UBHKHKHH
Account name: Salesian Society (Hong Kong)
69B, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Bank code: 072
Account number: 701-530013345
This account is a multi currency account for receving all currencies other than Hong Kong Dollars.