Schools in Myanmar close for the summer holidays from the months of March, April and May. This year, that time also coincided with travel lockdowns and quarantine requirements for anyone returning to Myanmar. For many communities, both larger cities and smaller, the quarantine requirements posed a challenge. Proper quarantine facilities in most areas did not yet exist. One of the great things about Myanmar is its citizens’ generosity. Across the country, hotels, stadiums, meditation centers and schools offered their buildings as free quarantine centers. The Shwe Kya Monastic School was one of them.
Shwe Kya Monastic School is located in the small village of Shwe Kya in Myanmar’s Naypyitaw region, about 40km away from the capital. Its relationship with Studer Trust began in 2014, when we supported the construction of an 80’x30' school building. As COVID-19 spread, Myanmar citizens living abroad were returning to their home villages. Shortly after the first confirmed cases on March 23, all citizens coming from abroad were required to spend 14 days in a quarantine center. The Shwe Kya community quickly realized that the only shelter in close proximity was not suitable as it lacked partitions, showers and toilets. Shwe Kya Monastic Middle school saw the opportunity to help support by lending the space that Studer Trust supported.
Volunteers were an integral part of making the center a success. Not only did they help to ensure adherence to basic requirements like social distancing and temperature checks, but they went above and beyond, organizing entertainment and fitness areas and facilitating Buddhist Sabbath rituals. The school was also heavily supported with donations from the community.
In the end, 39 people were housed at the Shwe Kya Monastic Middle School, all of whom tested negative and were able to return to their families with a clear mind. Studer Trust is extremely proud of the school and community’s efforts. They truly represent the promise to “Respect the Spirit of Helping” upon which Studer Trust was founded. The center closed on April 18th once all returnees had been cleared, and has been disinfected. It is excited to reopen its doors as a school.