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We are still here! Let us send you tips for travelling through Myanmar and stories from the road …
And we are not the only ones.
Below we list a handful of other companies and organisations that like Sampan are working to preserve heritage and support community development, whether it be environmentally, economically or socially. Their work is more important now than ever.
They are green heroes.
Founded in 1969, The Gurkha Welfare Trust provides vital financial medical and hardship support to Gurkha veterans, their widows and their families, and delivers development and community aid to deprived communities.
Through their development and community aid programmes, the Gurkha Welfare Trust rebuilds schools, runs medical camps in remote districts and pipes-in fresh, clean water to villages. Their schools programme is one of their longest running, benefitting over 40,000 children last year alone. All construction projects are designed and built to earthquake resilient standards. They also have 30 years of development expertise in rural water and sanitation projects in Nepal and are currently rated as A+ by the UK Development Tracker, which measures the impact and sustainability of development projects.
In the centre of Dala weary travellers can revive themselves at the Chu Chu café, attached to the Chu Chu workshop where Wendy and her young team convert plastic waste into purses, pencil cases and retro jewellery.
For a while Sampan has been taking over our plastic waste from the office to give to Wendy and her team. In turn, we then pick up little wallets that they have created out of the waste plastic and give these as presents to our guest. Recycling at its most pure.
In August 2022 a fire burnt down the entirety of Wendy’s workshop. Thankfully there were no serious injuries. But it was heart breaking to see so much hard work and passion literally go up in smoke. There are ways to support Wendy and the team. Sampan will continue to place orders with Chu Chu. Others such as Hla Day have made similar pledges. More information and a direct way to donate can be found here.
Help 4 Forgotten Allies (H4FA) is focused on supporting widows and veterans from the Second World War who fought alongside the British, as well as on humanitarian work with increasing numbers of refugees and IDPs from the Kayin (Karen), Chin and Kayah (Karenni) ethnic groups.
The numbers of remaining veterans and widows are dwindling rapidly and so the charity is in a process of transition, focussing increasingly on educational needs within these areas, seeing this as a lasting legacy and memorial to honour those who have served faithfully in years past. You can a video about their school project on the Indian border with Myanmar here.
In 2017, the film makers Grammar Productions joined H4FA in Myanmar, as three of the charity`s trustees travelled to meet some of the veterans: to deliver aid and ensure them that they had not been forgotten. Sampan supported Grammar Productions operationally on the ground. You can watch a trailer of the documentary here.
In 2022, Sampan`s CEO Bertie Alexander, was appointed a trustee of Help 4 Forgotten Allies. Read more about the charity and their work here.
Inle Heritage Foundation is a not-for-profit organization working to preserve and enhance the culture of Inle Lake and the people who call it home. The organization was set up by people of Inle who are proud of the rich heritage of their region, and who want to ensure that their children and grandchildren grow up in the same surroundings.
Inle Heritage has set up a vocational training school to train students in the hospitality sector. We know from direct experience that the graduates from this school are some of the most well-trained and diligent young things working in the Myanmar hospitality industry.
For visitors to the lake, Inle Heritage offers cookery classes in the famed Inthar cuisine and serves up ‘Grandma’s Inthar Cooking’ in the restaurant. These are recipes that have been handed down for generations, with all ingredients coming from around the lake.
Those searching for an even more immersive experience may wish to sleep on stilts in a house designed in traditional Inle fashion. These ten stilt houses are surrounded by good agriculture practices (GAP) gardens, which can be appreciated upon one’s personal terrace.
Kohima, a town set high among jungle-covered hills in Nagaland in North East India, was the site of an epic battle in WW2. The town was completely destroyed, but this did not prevent the local inhabitants from supporting the British and Indian troops. Without the help of the Naga people, it is doubtful if the battle could have been won.
The Kohima Educational Trust (KET) was founded 60 years later by veterans of the battle as a debt of honour to the Nagas in order to provide educational assistance to the young people of today, many of them descendants of those who had so ably assisted the British and Indian forces.
In collaboration with the Kohima Educational Society (KES), a charity formed in response to the formation of the Kohima Educational Trust, many projects are achieved, principally the making of several hundred scholarship awards every year.
This video shows one of the KET trustees explaining a little more.
Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) is a medical aid organization whose mission is to improve access to quality health care for the poorest Myanmar people. MAM has set up a network of clinics where basic health care is provided and preventative education offered.
In addition to basic health care, MAM facilitates condom and needle distribution, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer screening and counselling. To further prevent the spread of HIV, MAM treats pregnant HIV+ women in order to keep the disease away from their unborn babies.
MAM also supports a network of 1,700 Community Health Workers to provide health care in the most remote villages of Kachin, Kayin, Chin and Mon States as well as Sagaing Region and the Naga Self-Administered Zone.
See here for more information: https://www.mam.org.mm/
Pann Nann Ein is an organization situated in the township of Dala, just over the Yangon River from Myanmar’s commercial capital.
The enterprise works with disabled people, training them to create ornate handicrafts that riff off traditional Myanmar aesthetics and are marketed towards foreign visitors to Myanmar. Pann Nann Ein aims to not just create beautiful products – which they do – but allow their members to feel autonomy and worth; things that they are often denied.
In Myanmar society, it is common to regard disabled people as helpless and look at them with nothing but pity. Pann Nan Ein battles these false assumptions.
You can watch a video we made of Pann Nann Ein here.
Plan Bee is a social enterprise introducing advanced beekeeper training in the nectar-rich regions of southern Shan and Kayah states. Through honey, their intention is to empower and improve the livelihoods, nutrition and food security for thousands of vulnerable people.
Plan Bee has already trained more than 150 beekeepers and is providing them with the necessary training and support to become successful in their new businesses.
The honey produced by the Plan Bee keepers is 100 per cent pure and free from antibiotics and pesticides. Plan Bee promotes an awareness of the importance of bee colonies and pollination in the face of the harmful effects of modern agriculture.
Additionally, Plan Bee supports their beekeepers to develop bee-related micro enterprises and disseminate their produce throughout the country.
Plan Bee products can be found throughout Myanmar and they have an education centre in Pindaya where visitors can learn about the bees and the process of producing honey.
Learn more about Plan Bee here.
Third Story Project is a non-profit social enterprise creating books for Myanmar children in Burmese and other indigenous languages. Over 100 languages are spoken in Myanmar and Third Story Project has created books in over 13 of them; in some cases printing in languages only spoken by small pocket communities in far-flung areas of the country.
The books, written and illustrated by local artists, cover a selection of key topics ranging from peace and tolerance to female empowerment and child rights.
The books are distributed to children and communities free of charge. But to do this they require your help! Let us know if you wish for us to help you meet the team behind Third Story Project while in Yangon.