Visiting Myanmar (Burma)
The landscapes of Myanmar (Burma) are dazzling. They include large mountain ranges with dense forests, vast mountain plateaux with deep valleys, and some 4,000 beautiful islands in the south. Serene lakes such as Lake Inle are found in the central part of the country, and two great rivers, the Ayeyarwady and the Thanlwin (Salween), traverse the country from north to south.
And then there are the wonderful people of Myanmar (Burma); some 60 different ethnic groups that speak over one hundred languages; among them the Burmans, the Shan, the Karen, and the Kachin. They are kind, friendly, unusually hospitable and highly civilized. They will welcome you to this land of great diversity and strong contrasts.
Unfortunately, this wonderful country is also a land of contradictions and controversy. Democracy and human rights have not yet been re-established. But there is a glimmer of hope. The military government and the opposition are holding talks under the auspices of the United Nations. Let us hope that these negotiations will lead to national reconciliation, which the country and its people urgently need before the nation can develop.
Myanmar (Burma) is still suffering from the after-effects of decades of socialism and self-imposed isolation, a destructive mixture that the former strongman Ne Win had prescribed for the country in 1962. The boycotts imposed by the West in order to pressure the present government into political concessions have been largely counterproductive. Boycotts hurt the average citizen more than a country's leadership.
During my several visits to Mandalay I was introduced to two orphanages, the Mandalay Buddhist Orphanage for Boys and a separate Buddhist Orphanage for Girls. With the help of my German and American friends I have set up two charitable organizations, the latest one in the State of Hawaii, the CHILDREN SUPPORT INITIATIVE. Our aim is to improve the living and health conditions of about 360 girls and boys and to offer them practical training and access to higher education. This homepage includes a chapter on the two orphanages. Please have a look at it to learn more about the challenges and hopes of these special children.
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