By Changing lives in Myanmar is an opportunity present?

May 2011 Commentary
Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar, Foundation Trustee Chair

In 1962 all nongovernmental organizations were banned in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and the country has not had any active Rotary clubs ever since.

But, in 2005, a California Rotarian founded the Myanmar Orphanages Safe Water Management Project. Rotary districts 3360, (Northern Thailand) 5230, (Central California) 6580, (Indiana) and 6740 (Kentucky) have each provided support. The project system consists of a compressor and pump placed atop a required proven, existing tube well at any given orphanage site, providing simple access to water for three vital applications: food preparation and drinking, personal bathing and laundry, and sustainable crop irrigation. To date, 18 systems have been completed, and 14 more are in the pipeline – the latter due to five Special Initiative Grants by The Rotary Foundation.

The clean water also provides better health for the children. For instance, skin diseases disappear with the access to clean water. This water system project covers several of Rotary’s emphases – health, hunger, and water and sanitation.

There is today a cautious optimism in Myanmar. Changes will not occur overnight. However, this might be a prudent time for Rotary to explore the possibility of reentering Myanmar. It will take time, but everyone who wants to harvest a crop knows that the seeds will have to be planted well in advance, and now may be an opportunity for Rotary to plant those seeds.

I believe we have the connections, both inside and outside of Myanmar, to start making contacts for the purpose of bringing Rotary back. A Rotary club once again in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) would make a super example of Rotary Building Communities – Bridging Continents through Service Above Self.

About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
This entry was posted in Guest Column and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s