Shwe Yone Kalay Store — The Little Golden Rabbit Shop
Myanmar Books for Myanmar Kids
After a long journey from Yangon to Sittwe and then up the Kaladan river we finally made it to Mrauk-U, Rakhine State, Myanmar. We were heading back to our guest house before the electricity went off we came across the other six tourists who were visiting Mrauk-U which was, at one time, more affluent than London or Amsterdam.
They were discussing what were good things to give to the kids that occasionally hung around the temples. They were worried that simply handing out money would create a situation similar to that in Angkor Wat. They wanted to be able to give them something to help ease their own discomfort at seeing the poverty of these kids-their extended bellies and runny noses. The best they had come up with was pens, coffee-mix (instant coffee with powdered milk and lots of sugar), soap…things along those lines.
Tourists often give kids pens or notepads for school. In Shan State so many French tourists have given kids candies that the kids sometimes follow you requesting “bon bon, bon bon.” Kids will often go and sell the pens at the nearest shop.
It might be better to give a kid a bit of money than coffee-mix or lollies, but there is an absolutely perfect solution for the concerned tourist visiting remote areas in Myanmar.
A local NGO, Yinthwe Foundation, has spent a lot of time developing a series of children’s books. These books have been written and illustrated in such a way that they educate both the child and the parents. The child learns to read while the care-giver learns healthy child-rearing practices: the importance of the father’s love in raising children, respect for their own culture and traditions, hygiene and nutrition.
While visiting Mrauk-U we had some of these books with us and handed a few out to some kids who were hanging around having a good look at us. We found that the kids generally preferred the colorful books (we had some in black and white).
Their mothers were very interested in this gift as well.
We also found that although the kids may all want their own book initially, it really doesn’t matter how many you have. If you have just one book to give to ten kids it will benefit all of them equally. They can reuse it, share it and whatnot.
Yinthway Foundation’s mission is to support the development of young children in Myanmar through community building, teacher training and the development of learning tools. Yinthway means “our beloved little children” in Burmese. This foundation has also supported the development of hand-crafted children’s toys created by a handicapped womens group.
The sales section of the foundation is called Shwe Yone Kalay ECCD Store. Shwe Yone Kalay means “little golden rabbit” in Burmese. The shop is located in downtown Yangon behind the Bo Kyoke Market and the Thamada Hotel. The address is 24 Yaw Min Gye Road.
Directions to Shwe Yone Kalay ECCD store
Yaw Min Gye Road is the road between Thamada and the hotel across the street from Thamada (the name of that hotel is always changing so I am not sure what it is at present-something complicated-it is a huge five star hotel).
If you find the Thamada Hotel you are on the right track.
The shop is down the lane just past the Daewoo Office. This will be on your right hand side if Thamada is behind you. At the beginning of this lane is a tea-shop. If you are hungry or need a drink of lapaye this is a great place to stop. The staff at Yinthway recommend it as being clean and delicious.
Past the tea shop, at the end of the lane you will see on the building to your right a sign with a picture of a rabbit reading a book. The sign is written in Burmese with the letters ECCD.
This is the building you are after. Enter and go up the stairs to the first floor. Open the door and go in. The staff here can speak English and will be happy to answer any other questions you might have. The phone number is (01) 246636 or 706665.