Somewhere in Sagaing, Myanmar, we went past a school and our driver asked us if we would like to stop and take a walk inside the school compound. Our driver said this is a free public school for monks, nuns and village children of different age groups to study. When we were there, the children were having their break. While the younger ones used the time to play games (e.g. soccer), the older ones tried to study. Isn’t this similar to schools everywhere else?
As we walked around the compound, we noticed that some of the young monks and nuns were looking at/ observing us rather intently when we walked past them. Our driver explained, “Many of these young monks and nuns have never met their parents before because their parents died in the fighting. In fact,the monasteries and nunneries took them in because they are orphans. So when they see foreign adults walking around, they fantasize about how their parents might look like.”
It is very sad what civil wars do to a country and its people. Apart from their shaved heads, they are not so much different from my students back home. These children deserve so much more – they deserve parental love, they deserve better school facilities, they deserve a safe country. So many children in Singapore live their lives with a sense of entitlement and they don’t realize just how fortunate they are as compared to their peers in neighbouring countries. Many of them also don’t realize just how hard the generations which came before them worked so as to provide them with a safe and conducive learning environment. Ask any children in Singapore what they need most in their lives and very few will mention about parental love, school facilities or the peace and stability of the country. These things, surely, seem quite basic to them. To most of the children (apart from the children from broken families who crave for a loving family), life without any of them is almost impossible to imagine. How I wish I could extend some of these privileges to the children here.