A New Charity Project in Burma: Shwe Pyi Hein Eye Hospital of Yangon (Rangoon)

I have recently committed to raising funds to help an eye hospital in Rangoon run by a monk who is renowned in Burma for his social welfare work. In September I visited the hospital and the monk to observe first-hand what they are doing. After reading this, if you wish to donate, please let me know.

The clinic opened in November of 2004 and since that time has been run completely on a donation basis. All treatments given here are free. Over ten years, the hospital has grown larger, even through all the political upheaval. Although it is known as an eye hospital today, thanks to donations from Burmese they are able to provide care for patients in need of:

  1. General Medical Treatment
  2. Diabetes treatment
  3. Ear and Nose treatment.
  4. Pediatrics
  5. Dental
  6. Veterinary (!)
  7. Acupuncture
  8. Skin Diseases
  9. Gynecology

In August of 2006 the hospital began sending out mobile teams of doctors, nurses and medical staff to various wards around Yangon on a regular routine.

From its opening in 2004 until today, Shwe Pyi Hein Clinic has offered free medical serves to over 460,000 patients. The cost of treating over 200 patients everyday is about $320 a day or about $9500 a month. Another $6000 a month is necessary to pay for staffing, upkeep, automobile expenses, and general expenses.

About 150 patients a month undergo eye operations. Patients are allowed to stay overnight at the hospital after surgery. Everything is free, including food and medicine as well as transport to and from their homes. Accommodations are also provided for the doctors and nurses who perform the surgeries. Moreover, accommodations are also provided for accompanying family members of patients.

The present hospital was constructed using donations from the Monk’s association and the general public. The hospital including apparatus, beds, etc. cost about 400,000 dollars. All doctors, nurses and medical staff are volunteers as are most of the office staff. The address of the clinic is Shwe Pyi Hein Monastery, Pyi Thar yar, Bauktaw, Yankin Township,

Yangon. Tel; 95-1- 541493, 95 9 730 56569,
email; shwepyihein@gmail.com,
Web Page: www.shwepyihein.org

Burmese Days

While the country has certainly been welcoming more tourists than ever, if you get out of the major cities( specifically Yangon), life goes on as it always has.  I can see big differences in some places, particularly in Bagan, but this is probably because the last time I was here was with my mother in 1985….when there were only 25,000 tourists a year!  This year there will be more than one million.  Bagan is still very much under developed, but there are nice new hotels and street lights and many more cars to say nothing of the hoards of tourists…

 

If you have not been yet, make your plans soon.  Burma is looking to be the next Asian star….and you will want to come before that happens.

 

For the first time ever, I flew into Mandalay from Bangkok, which makes lots of sense if you are planning to spend time in upper Burma, including Bagan….

 

Enjoy the photos.

 

Land of shrines, Bagan, Burma

 

One of thousands of temples in Bagan

 

Merit making by Burmese villager in Bagan

 

a photo with a long lost friend

Burmese puppets

 

U Bein Bridge (World's longest teak wood bridge), Burma

 

Replica of Mandalay palace, Burma

Jaisalmer, India

I first visited India in the 1980s. At the time, I was told of a mystical city in the desert that was so isolated you had to take a camel caravan to get there. While this may have been an exaggeration, Jaisalmer, the mystical city, was so remote that it seemed impossible at the time to get to. My dream was to one day get to the city, and in finally, a quarter century later, I made it.

Deep in the western part of Rajasthan, which is mostly desert, not far from the Pakistani border, Jaisalmer was once a booming merchant city on the trading route from India to Europe. Because of its strategic location, it was a walled city, more like a fort. Filled with twisting alleyways, Jain temples, palaces, small galleries, stalls of crafts, rooftop restaurants and old merchant mansions turned into wonderful hotels, the city retains its medieval allure and is a wonderful place to stroll, sit, stay and eat.

Cars are not allowed in, but cows reign supreme. Alleyways are so small that when you see a cow coming down the alley, best move to the side and let it pass. This is a delightful, mystical wonderful place, and certainly worth the long ride to get here.

I stayed in a 450 year old haveli or mansion, with five rooms, and still owned by the original family. It was all a wonderful experience…I even joined a camel caravan in the desert. Enjoy the photos.

Entrance to the walled city

In the walled city

 

Jain Temple wall carvings

 

On a camel

 

The Walled city of Jaisalmer.

 

View from my room

A visit to the ancient capital of the Arakan Empire

These are photos of our journey to the ‘lost’ city of Mrauk U, in western Burma. I say ‘lost’ because it is really quite off the map… First you fly to the provincial town of Sittwe on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, not too far from Bangladesh, and then you board a small boat to go upriver some 7 hours until you come to this amazing town of ancient temples in the middle of…well,…nowhere.

Mrauk U was the last royal capital of the Arakan Empire that flourished some 600 years ago, and is filled with temples and pagodas dating back to the 15th century. The most revered is Shittaung Pagoda, built to comemmorate the defeat of the Portuguese back in 1535. It is famous for its amazing collection of 80,000 Buddha figures.

Unlike Bagan, home to hundreds of towering temples and pagodas in central Burma, Mrauk U is still a functioning town. So, a visit here is really like turning back the centuries.

Enjoy scenes along the river as we wend our way up to Mrauk U, explore the market and town, and visit the centuries-old temples with a few human interest shots included as well. Do note our trusty politicians posing with Burmese heroine Aung San Su Kyi.

After a few days of Arakanese adventures, we reverted to true form and found our way back to paradise: Ngapali Beach—one of the great unknown, untouched beaches left in the world. Not a jet ski in sight!

 

fishermen at Mrauk U, Myanmar

Fishermen at Mrauk U, Myanmar

Temples in Mrauk U, Myanmar

 

A hallway inside a temple in Mrauk U

 

Sunset in Mrauk U

 

Guardian statues at a local temple, Mrauk U

 

Ngapali Beach, Myanmar

 

Sunset at Ngapali, Myanmar