Chiswick Charity Shares Some Good News For The New Year

May and Jon help make an immeasurable difference to life of 8yr old Burmese boy Htoo Kyaw


Htoo Kyaw when May and Jon met him before his first operation:

Before the second operation:

Being cared for after operation by a nurse friend:

Second day after operation on his palate and connection to eye:


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Chiswick resident May Tha-Hla and her husband Jon are leaving for Burma this week to reconnoitre some new and existing projects for their charity ‘Helping The Burmese Delta’, but not before they shared some good news for the New Year.

"You might remember the story of the 8 year old little boy, Htoo Kyaw, whom I found in a backwater of the delta last January, with a severe and complex Tessier cleft in his face," said May Tha-Hla. "He had never seen a doctor in his life, though according to the medical annals, remedial work should be started as soon as possible after birth in order to help speech, eating and stay alive.

"Last year, we and our local partners, Searchers Myanmar managed to organize for him to come out of the delta hinterland and down to Yangon to have a first stage op which closed up the outside of his face. His inner structures weren’t worked on at that stage. The work was carried out free in February 2010 by the German Interplast team who came for a fortnight to do operations in Burma.

"However, I had been very concerned about the boy’s future surgical needs as the soft structures as well as the bony structures needed attention and his speech and eating were impeded. We were so lucky to discover the Interplast team were to return this year on January 1st and managed to persuade them to agree to tackle a second round of operation on Htoo Kyaw, even though they said it was a rather complex problem. This time, however, the operation ‘camp’ was in Thandwe, up on the West coast, an 18 hour journey from Yangon if done by car. We brought the boy and his mum down to Yangon by boat (12 hours) and then decided to fly him up to Thandwe together with a male nurse volunteer and an organizer from Searchers, our local partners. Our friends made themselves useful to the German doctors, helping with all the other patients as well as Htoo Kyaw.

"The doctors operated on him for four hours, just two days ago, and he seems to have come out of it very well. Some pictures are attached below. He is already taking solids and dismissing much of his pain because, he said he was so excited at the chance to experience an airplane journey for the first time. Where Htoo Kyaw comes from, you cannot even see airplanes in the sky as it is not on a flight path (unless they are military helicopters), and as for electricity or running water or doctors and hospitals – those are not what people from his village have ever experienced. They are very, very remote even within Burma. Htoo Kyaw is a plucky little boy who likes living life to the full and this work on his face is far more than he had ever dreamt of receiving. His family send a huge amount of thanks to our supporters and donors for making this happen."

She added, "Isn’t that nice news to start your year off?"

May Tha-Hla and Jon hope to continue to help other unfortunate people in the Burmese delta, helped by your generous donations in the past and future. This month they plan to:

• move on with their project to train ‘backpack para-medics’ with volunteers from similarly remote villages
• reconnoitre where to expand the reach of their community school building in areas which haven’t received attention from their government
• make a special visit to Htoo Kyaw’s school to do something for the all the children of the whole (very poor) community which has been so supportive of the disabled child in their midst
• start another school renovation/rebuild project in Thaung Du (even people in Burma don’t know this place as it’s off the beaten track, two hours boat ride from somewhere called Maubin). They will be personally funding this project themselves as it’s in memory of May's father whose birthplace and first school was in this village.
• There’s also a trip to a sheltered home and educational establishment for homeless and disturbed boys whose headmaster/manager asked for help with supplies of laundry powder and cleaning materials as well as the usual food. The boys themselves wanted a football – and they support Manchester United with great fervour.

The charity's work focuses on educational and health issues through which they hope to improve their options for livelihoods and happier lives in future.

"We hope you will continue to support the charity, which works in the areas that are overlooked by both the Burmese government and the bigger international agencies.We continue to spend 100% of all your donations on the most unfortunate people in the delta with all the running costs of the charity and our overseas travel being funded by ourselves."

January 10, 2011