Askar is a small, unassuming middle-aged woman – with a heart for teaching children in some of the most remote areas of Myanmar. Only worn paths connect the villages, and distances are measured by how many days it takes to walk to a neighboring village. She’s a brave woman to work in these remote areas, where medical care and comforts are rare.
Here’s her story…in her words:
I was born and raised in a small village in the Himalayan mountains. I was able to go to Bible College in Putao, and served churches in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state. But four years ago, the church elders from my home village sent me a letter asking me to come back to the village. I had already been thinking about this. I felt so sorry for the children, there were no schools. All the people knew to do was work in the fields.
So I went back to the village. I taught the children. One boy was outstanding. I taught him to read the Bible in his tribal language. I talked to him about how this area needed educated leaders. He prayed that he would be able to go to school, but the nearest school was two days walk away! There was no way he could carry enough food for the week, and then return home on weekends. The distance was too far, and the travel too dangerous. But God answered his prayer He was able to go to the capital city of Myitkyina and live in a children’s home there.
Last December the ten churches in the areas met for a planning meeting. We discussed many plans, but we finally agreed that every church must have a Sunday School and a kindergarten. There are no other schools.
These 10 villages are small and are not close to each other. They are as far apart as four miles to eight days walk from each other. This area cannot be reached easily in any direction. To buy salt the women must cross rivers and climb mountains for eight miles to reach the China border. Putao, the nearest town, is 10 days walk away. There are almost no educated people in this area. The one thing I want to do with my life is to give basic education to these children. I hope some will be able to go to Putao or even to Myitkyina for middle school and even high school. We need educated people. We need educated preachers.
The people in this area do not have enough food. The weather is the problem, as we get too much rain, especially at harvest. Everyone works so hard, because all they know to do is slash and burn agriculture. But if the rains come at harvest, their work is destroyed.
I nearly died not long ago, but God spared my life and one of my students never left my side. I have no children of my own, but I love these children as if they were my own. I want them to learn and grow to be leaders in the church and in their communities.
Asian Children’s Mission has added Askar to our staff in an act of faith. She needs a sponsor. Teacher sponsorship is $1200 per year, or $100 a month. What a gift to “the least of these” and what a legacy for the giver to bring the light of a Christian informed education to this region.