In this blog from Myanmar, the VisionFund team visits an education centre just outside the nation’s capital. This story embodies many of VisionFund’s guiding principles: empowering women, educating children, and impacting communities:
The Bright Baby education centre on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, is true to its name.
The nursery children are asleep when we arrive, on a hot day in January. Lined up in rows, quiet and still. In the next room, teenagers are dutifully yelling responses at the teacher, as they work towards their matriculation exams.
Not long after we arrive, the rows begin to stir, and small, joyful faces file past, on the way to their lunchboxes. After lining up to have their hair combed, the afternoon begins, and the small sleeping figures transform into a mass of smiles, curious gazes and boundless energy.
Cho Cho Hleing started Bright Baby after noticing there was a gap in her community for children to be taught basic life skills at a young age. She didn’t have much money, but she did dream of teaching and felt called to help children become well-rounded individuals, with manners and life skills to stand them in good stead.
Eight years ago, Cho Cho and her husband were living separately in order to make ends meet. He was in Malaysia working as a taxi driver; while she used what resources she had to found the centre near Myanmar’s capital.
A year after the school opened, Cho Cho heard about VisionFund through a friend and received her first loan of about UD $2,000. She purchased supplies for the pre-school, something she has done with a subsequent 10 loans. The most recent loan was for US $2,000, with which she bought a vehicle to transport students to and from the centre and upgraded the classroom furniture. After four loans, her husband could come home from Malaysia where he worked as a labourer in a furniture factory trying to send money home each month. A VisionFund client himself, he now runs a taxi in Yangon. When the couple first founded Bright Baby, they earned $700 a month. Currently, they earn $1,500 a month, more than doubling their income in the time they have been supported by VisionFund. They employ four family members and seven other teachers at the centre.
The entire centre is the size of a small house, and currently serves 300-400 students, over 100 of which are nursery children. Space is an issue, so Cho Cho continues to work and save, in the hope of expanding and improving the lives of more children.
Cho Cho dreams of opening a private school, and continuing to combine her business with her calling to serve and empower children. As the economy in Myanmar continues opening itself up to the world, women like Cho Cho will be at the centre of preparing children for the global world, and giving the next generation the best possible start.