Magnificent seven in Myanmar

Yesterday, I met with a group of seven students for whom the Bill Cook Foundation paid school fees for so that they could finish high school. All are HIV+, and several are orphans or live with one sick parent. I met these great kids through Sister Mary Dillon, a septuagenarian Irish nun who has worked with HIV/AIDS patients in Myitkyina, Myanmar for the last 15 years. We met three years ago when I was visiting Kachin State in the north because my dad was stationed there during the first year of my life, 1944; and I went there to remember him on the 25th anniversary of his death. 

The results of the children’s exams will not be known till July, but it appears that all seven will graduate. We met to discuss what comes next. Four of the seven want to be teachers, two hope to work in a health profession, and one (the only boy) wants to learn computers—despite the fact he has never used one and his home has no electricity.

All are bound, we decided, for post-secondary education. For most of them, their schooling will resume in the fall. However, the computer class started earlier today, and our young man was enrolled because the Bill Cook Foundation pledged to put him and the other six students through their post-secondary education as long as they make progress each year.

Several relatives of the students, including a Buddhist monk with a cell phone, were at our meeting. They practically tripped over themselves thanking me, which of course means they were thanking everyone who has contributed to our work. 

Essentially, we committed $7,000 per year for three or four years for this group of wonderful and bright kids. Large NGOs would never have found these children, but we did thanks to Sister Mary.  This meeting and commitment yesterday exemplify what we do. To join us or to make an additional gift, just visit