Following the last trip to the Khin Gyi Pyaw Monastic Educational School in December 2016 this tagged-along visit from August 15th to 19th with Brother Yeap Cheow Soon, incidentally he is the brainchild spearheaded the project, to review the progress of the various projects undertaken with efforts and funds from supporters and donors from Singapore.
The list of completed projects since the last visit includes a new large and well-ventilated dining hall that can accommodate up to two hundred diners under a bright and cheerful ambience.
A new water well was dug completed with an electrical pump system and a water purification filter system was installed for drinkable water to quench the thirst. They are not only beneficial to the monastic school but also to the villagers as well, as a community service to them who can now draw better quality water from the stand pipes installed outside the perimeter wall of the school.
The construction of an additional block of classrooms in progress with the main structure completed with naked brick walls while we watched the installation of metal beam structure for the roof. The block of classrooms is expected to be fully functional by the end of the year that would ease the dire shortage of suitable classroom facility.
Future project – dormitories
Currently, the several dilapidated wooden dormitories, with a single stairway hampers fire evacuation, coupled with poor ventilation are in dire of improvement. Many of them are also over-crowded and congested to put up with all the residents and pose a health dilemma. Overcrowding and congestion are perennial issues that warrant preferential consideration.
The need to provide decent accommodation is a paramount concern and was given top priority. It is envisaged to build two blocks of two-storey concrete dormitory that can accommodate about 100 or more residents. Contractors for the various aspects of the project were called upon and provided quotations for evaluation with Brother Yeap Cheow Soon in attendance.
Happy and carefree childhood days
The day kick starts at 4:30 am with the samaneras getting ready to go alms round or pindapata. A truck would fetch them to Innwa town for the alms round in two trips. Younger samaneras do not go on alms round but stay back to perform chores like area cleaning – sweeping the floor, clearing litters, racking fallen leaves and branches and disposal of garbage among others.
The first trip would return at 7:00 am would await for alms gatherers from the second trip at 7:30 am before they proceeded together to the food point and emptied their food from the alms bowls. All the samaneras would then queue up to collect their breakfast.
Before attending classes at 9:30 am and the afternoon session at 2:00pm all the samaneras would continue with their designated chores. Classes would end at 11:00 am follow by lunch at 11:30 am. After lunch and before the commencement of the afternoon lessons at 2:00 pm they are free to indulge in their own activities like taking a bathe and washing of robes; and for others it is play time.
The samaneras’ age ranges from five years old to teenagers. They enjoy a daily care free stay without any concern or anxiety living in the present moment. They indulged themselves in whatever recreational activities that they could fancy like kicking a football, playing hop scotch – a child’s game in which a player tosses an object (as a stone) consecutively into areas of a figure outlined on the ground and hops through the figure and back to regain the object. Other activities included playing catching, kicking a rattan ball (sepak takraw) and running around the compound. Their free roaming spirit and innocence reflected on their calm and serene faces, a reminiscence of my own childhood days living kampong, in the late 50’s and early 60’s without electricty and water supply. Water from the well for bathing and washing and fresh water fetched from the standpipe for cooking. Oil lamps were used for lighting during the night and an early bed time.
Meal offering by Ryan Song Ruijun
Bhante Cakkapala who travelled with us went to his home town to attend to family matters rejoined us on August 19th and presided over meal offering by Ryan Song Ruijun. “In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence. And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence, both here and hereafter.” (A.III,42). “When they give out of faith with a heart of confidence, food accrues to (the giver) himself both in this world and the next.” (SN 1:43).
After a sumptuous meal we were mindful to “consume food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of the body, for avoiding harm, and for assisting the spiritual life.” (AN 4:159). We departed at 12 noon for the airport and boarded a flight home and landed safely in Singapore at 8:10 pm.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
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Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: August 23rd 2017
Contents, photos and video clips by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence factual or otherwise.