Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little Buddhas

The other day I spent an afternoon at my family's temple in Sagaing, a city of high concentration in temples and meditation centers within a country already full of temples and meditation centers. A large group of children between the age of six and fourteen took a shine to my digital camera and started following me around, asking me to take their picture. They were absolutely over the moon every time they saw themselves on my little screen.

I taught them how to use the camera and they were each excited to have their turn at being a photographer. Unfortunately, the excitement led to my camera slipping between little hands and the result was a stuck lens. The little Buddhas looked at me horrified and apologetically. One of my cousins saw this and jokingly asked which stick he should hit them with for breaking my camera. The little Buddhas found the smallest stick on the ground and said to use that one. I laughed and the lens was shoved back into working condition.

The little Buddhas begged me to come back the following year and bring them printouts of their pictures. As most novice monks are there for only a week at a time, I asked if they would still be at the temple next year. They responded that they would. That was when I realized that they were all orphans that the temple had taken in. They would still be there the following year because they had nowhere else to go.

Most people in Burma are quite poor and lack the means to take care of their growing families so many children are left in the care of temples by parents who cannot afford to keep them. It’s such a sad situation and I really feel for these kids. There were about a dozen of these orphans at my family’s temple, but there are hundreds of temples like that in Burma. Think of how many children that means are abandoned by their families.

I promised the children I would come back soon to see them again and take more pictures of them.

© Connie Hum 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Burmese Days

Before I left California, one of my cousins asked me, "What do you do in Burma? Just go to temples?" Well, yeah. There ARE a lot of beautiful gold-laden pagodas in Burma. That's true.
But there's so much more to Burma than just the temples.

Being back in Burma has been great for me. For all its faults and wrongs, I love it here. I really do. There's something about its peaceful chaotic-ness and the novelty in the everyday that I love about Burma. Every day, every thing, every moment is a (mis)adventure!

Taking a ride in the cars in Burma is a constant source of amusement for me. I find such joy and hilarity in sitting like packed sardines, bumping around in the cars whenever we hit the many potholes in the streets that I'm pretty much just laughing the entire time I'm in a car. Chinese fire engines have nothing on the Burmese! I've never seen cars and trucks filled to the brim like this before! Most times, I'm laughing through the fear that the people (myself included) will just come spilling off onto the road.

A majority of the homes in Burma do not have hot water to shower with. There's a basin filled with water and you take a small bucket, douse yourself with water, lather and rinse. Given that the air is rather hot and sticky, this is a refreshing treat. The only problem is that the first couple of douses are usually a bit shocking to the body. My aunt calls it dancing around and it's true. You're quite literally dancing around for the first few splashes until your body gets used to the cool water. Then it's pure bliss.

My favorite thing about being back in Burma though is definitely seeing my family that lives here. Since I rarely get to see them, it's always fun to hang out with them, especially my younger cousins.

© Connie Hum 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Zen in 2010: All's Well That Ends Well

Happy New Year everyone!!!

The start of a new year is usually the time for self-reflection and coming up with (mostly impossible) resolutions to achieve. This year, I have a resolution that I have every intention of keeping AND every reason to.

My New Year's resolution: Zen in 2010. Zen in 2010 means that throughout the year, I am going to make every attempt to achieve "enlightenment" in the sense of helping others and developing myself personally and spiritually. Too long I've wanted to make a positive change in the world and I haven't felt like I've done anything toward that goal. I'm going to change that in 2010!

The first step to achieving Zen in 2010? My "All's Well That Ends Well" fund-raising project! My goal is to raise $5000 by April 5, 2010 to help build a freshwater well in a village in a developing country, with YOUR help! Please visit my fund-raising page to make your tax-deductible donation, 100% of which will go DIRECTLY to the freshwater well project! On behalf of the BILLION people on this planet who don't have access to clean drinking water, THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance for your generosity!

Also as part of my Zen in 2010 goal, I am also going to endeavor to be as good a friend to YOU as you have been to me. Time and again I am struck with the awe in knowing how truly incredible the people I am surrounded by are, and it's high time I start reflecting that incredible-ness back at the people who matter the most in my life.

This is probably going to be the toughest part of my Zen in 2010 goal as I'm going to be halfway around the world from most of you, and well, let's be honest, YOU have certainly set the bar high!

I'm going to do my best but I need you to send me your address!

Again, happy new year and don't forget to make your donation to All's Well That Ends Well! Together, we WILL make a difference!

© Connie Hum 2010

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