Moon Festival, Yangon Myanmar September 2018

The monastic system in Burma is a critical foundation of the social safety net. Both males (monks) and females (nuns) rely exclusively on public support by way of donations for their survival. However, the nuns are far more restricted in when they can move freely about to obtain such donations. Many years ago, at a very early age, a young Burmese fisherman named U Aung Than Sein recognized the plight of these women and girls. As soon as he began to generate income from his fishing, he started donating to the nuns on a regular basis. Over many years, as his businesses grew, this generous practice has also steadily grown into what is now a massive assembly of more than 3000 nuns who converge of the streets outside his home to receive a cash donation once every fortnight; the day before the new moon and the day before the full moon. U Aung Than Sein is now one of the most generous philanthropists in the entire country. During my last visit, several of my companions and I met with him and arranged to teach basic hygiene and hand washing to many of these nuns who assembled along the streets near his home. He and the nuns were highly appreciative of the gesture and we were fulfilled that we too could provide such a simple and practical gift.

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 Nuns of all ages participate

Nuns of all ages participate

 U Aung Than Sein distributing donations to the nuns. He is now assisted by his extended family so that the large number of small bills can be efficiently distributed.

U Aung Than Sein distributing donations to the nuns. He is now assisted by his extended family so that the large number of small bills can be efficiently distributed.

 Young nuns await the start of our demonstration.

Young nuns await the start of our demonstration.

 The nuns quickly took up our lessons and passed them on to others.

The nuns quickly took up our lessons and passed them on to others.

 Young girls share a laugh

Young girls share a laugh

 U Aung Than Sein and his daughter with thousands of nuns.

U Aung Than Sein and his daughter with thousands of nuns.

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