Max Harrington, a young college graduate from California, took up residence in Yangon in 2006, teaching at an international school. While there, he befriended Ko Thura Aung (Mr. King), who took him to visit monastic schools in the countryside outside Yangon. Max was struck by the natural beauty of Myanmar, the gentleness of the people, and the unique culture of monastic education, which has a long and rich history in Burma. Today, monastic schools provide basic education for children from poor families and for orphans, who can’t afford to attend government schools or who live in extremely rural areas with no government school. Monks and nuns compassionately look out for underprivileged children, teaching them numeracy and literacy skills using the same curriculum taught in government schools. They also provide priceless moral and ethical grounding.
Max and King came across Myo Oo Monastic School on their travels, a school with many orphans that needed a larger, sturdier classroom building than the existing thatch huts in which classes were taking place. Max returned to California in winter 2007 to launch a fundraising campaign to help this school. The Myanmar Children’s Foundation (MCF) was created in January 2007 by Max Harrington, Susan Steinbach and Rita Montes-Martin,residents of Davis, California. It was registered as a501(c)(3)in the State of California, EIN number = 20-8243976.
Max then returned to Myanmar to continue teaching and over the next few years took up several other projects for the Foundation. Run by a group of dedicated volunteers in Davis and Myanmar, MCF keeps its administrative costs to a minimum. The Country Director is the only paid employee. Over 90% of donations and grants are directed to those who truly need it – the rural children of Myanmar.
MCF has constructed five classroom buildings in rural areas, sponsored the educational costs of over 500 children at-risk for dropping out of school because of their family’s financial situation, and subsidizedsalaries for over 25local teachers. MCF was one of the first in-country responders offering emergency relief to children and families affected by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. Post cyclone, MCF built twowater tanks to provide clean drinking water at a monastic school in the dry season (that was located too close to the ocean to drill wells), provided health and hygiene trainings and medical check-ups, provided livelihood microloans to the parents of rural children, and trained volunteer local teachers to teach conversationally-focused English to the children.
MCF is registered with Guidestar at: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/20-8243976/myanmar-childrens-foundation.aspx#mission.