A meal of hope in Myanmar

Three years ago I traveled to Myitkyina, Myanmar, where my father was a US soldier during my infancy. It was supposed to be something of a nostalgia trip—until I met a saintly Irish nun who worked with HIV/AIDS patients and who was responsible for building a quite wonderful facility for patients. A few months later, I received an email from Sister asking if the Bill Cook Foundation would fund the education of some HIV+ teens who were unable to attend government schools. Sister Mary is not someone I could say ‘no’ to.  
The next year she took me to visit the homes of these children, most of whom had one parent who was very sick. I saw the joy on the faces of both the children and their parents when I told them that our Foundation would assure them good education. I just got back from my third visit to the children. We have added a couple, and now a few are in post-secondary school. Sister Mary has been replaced by a wonderful Burmese nun who administers our program. This year I asked if we could have a dinner for all the children. What a meal! I gave one of the students a Bill Cook Foundation hat, and he gave me a traditional Kachin (dominant ethnic group in Myitkyina) hat, which I'm sporting in the pictures. I promised all the children that we will support them as long as they are in school. I was asked to give a speech (with Sister as my translator). I told them that they were an inspiration to me and to everyone I speak to and now to my Facebook friends. Most take care of a parent and their home. All have faced severe discrimination as well as awareness of their medical condition. All have hope. The Bill Cook Foundation did not create their hope, but we do nourish it because they believe they can learn and support themselves and their parents.