Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Hoekyaw: a bright and confident boy

Hoekyaw’s mother died when he was one month old. He was abandoned by his family and brought to this monastery in the Mandalay region of Myanmar.

Monastic schools, like this one supported by ChildFund, provide care and education for orphans and other vulnerable children.

Teacher Daw Hnin Hnin Wai looks after Hoekyaw, now aged 3. She’s been at the school for 5 years and teaches Grade 3.

When Hoekyaw was younger, Daw Hnin Hnin Wai would take care of him “like my own baby.” She would take him to class. At night he sleeps with her and an orphan girl that Daw Hnin Hnin Wai also looks after.

“He has good manners. He doesn’t play with small children – he likes being with adults,” she says. “He learns quickly. He knows lots of words and mannerisms even though he hasn’t been taught them.

“He’s like an old man. When guests come, he talks to everyone like an adult. He`s always learning and wants to do things on his own. Only if he can’t do something himself will he ask for help. He even puts on tanaka (yellow face paste) himself.”

Daw Hnin Hnin Wai says when Hoekyaw is five, he will start having lessons. But informally he already attends a lot of classes and listens.

“He’s very confident – he’s bright and sharp,” she says. “Everyone knows him and likes him. He never asks for any snacks. He just eats rice and curry.”

Whenever Daw Hnin Hnin Wai goes to visit her mother, Hoekyaw goes too. He knows she’s leaving and doesn’t want to be left behind.

Soon, Daw Hnin Hnin Wai will retire and look after her own mother who lives some distance from Mandalay. She’ll have to leave Hoekyaw to be looked after by other teachers or monks.

“I feel really sad to be leaving him. If I was rich I would take him with me.”

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