From Hope Boarding School, Yangon, Myanmar
The children at HBS, ranging in age from ten years to eighteen years, all come from families trapped in extreme poverty. Indeed, some of our children are orphans, and many come from single-parent households. However, none of their families can afford to provide them with a good education. Most of their families struggle for their daily needs, and they all share some form of food-insecurity.
HBS exists to provide these children with a safe and loving home environment where they can receive good nutrition, proper medical care, education, and spiritual training. Because of the HOT food assistance we receive from IDES, our children are undoubtedly the strongest and healthiest children in the entire surrounding area. We are not just saying this, either. The teachers at the government schools were our children attend are all amazed at the marked difference between the HBS students and the other children, and especially the students who have been at HBS the longest.
When we travel to northwest Myanmar and visit with the families and relatives of the HBS students, we can see with our own eyes the real difference that the nutrition received at HBS makes. It is such a joy to see the happy, healthy, glowing faces of "our kids" when we return to Yangon. The help provided by IDES allows the children at HBS to enjoy regular servings of protein, fresh fruit, eggs, milk, and bread, in addition to having all of the rice and vegetables that they can possibly eat.
There is a long waiting list of families who desire to enroll their children at HBS because they see what a positive difference it makes in the lives of the children who do attend. A big part of that difference is the food assistance made available by the HOT program from IDES.
Please allow me to share the story of one of our HBS boys, Pao Min Thang (Pao Pao). In 2010, Palal Khongsai was selecting the first children to come to Yangon to live at HBS. Pao Pao's parents desperately wanted him to live at HBS where he could attend school, but they were afraid. Pao Pao was a sickly boy, and he would get very ill during rainy season. Each year seemed worse than the year before. In fact, the previous rainy season, he was so sick that he had lost all use of his legs and he couldn't stand up on his own. They thought surely he would die soon, but he was a very bright and happy boy and they really wanted him to get an education. His father, the pastor of a small church, told Palal, "We really want you to take him with you to Yangon, but we are afraid he will die there. If he dies, that will be a big problem for you." Without hesitation, Palal said, "We will take him. Even if he cannot attend school, we will at least get him the medical care he needs."
So Pao Pao came to live at HBS. He was frail and tiny for his age, but he seemed to get stronger day by day. When the next monsoon season hit, he did not get sick. In fact, he did not get sick again while at HBS, until several years later when an abscess in his hip flared up, and that healed quickly.
Pao Pao wants to be a Christian minister like his father when he grows up, and now, because of HBS, HOT, and IDES, we have no doubt that he will not only live, but that he will achieve his dream!