Mak­ing progress in Min­dat

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - By JUSTIN JEN­VEY

WHEN Bright’s Gei Lin Thang made a new life for him­self in Australia he be­gan work­ing to send money back to his mother and brother in Min­dat in Chin State, Myan­mar with one goal in mind.

That goal was, and still is, to im­prove the liv­ing con­di­tions in his vil­lage and to ed­u­cate the youngest gen­er­a­tion to al­low them to live more com­fort­ably into the fu­ture.

Long be­fore the Min­dat Project was ini­ti­ated last year, Gei Lin had been putting his own money into projects in the vil­lage and now with the help of the Alpine Shire com­mu­nity more progress is be­ing made.

Last year an on­line crowd fund­ing cam­paign raised more than $20,000 which went to­wards in­stalling a wa­ter tank and a 10-kilo­me­tre long pipe­line to pro­vide fresh wa­ter to Min­dat and sur­round­ing vil­lages.

That’s just one of sev­eral projects that has been com­pleted in the past 12-18 months and Rhett Chal­well along with Travis McGre­gor, friends who are now work­ing closely with Gei Lin, re­cently trav­elled back to Min­dat for the sec­ond time where they got a first­hand look at the progress.

“When we ar­rived back at the vil­lage for the first time Gei Lin’s mum walked up to Travis and gave him a big hug,” Mr Chal­well said.

“The ap­pre­ci­a­tion for not only what we’ve done but this whole town (Bright) has done to sup­port these guys is amaz­ing re­ally.”

Along with pay­ing for the pipe­line the money raised from crowd fund­ing and on­go­ing do­na­tions have helped make fur­ther im­prove­ments to the school.

Gei Lin has also payed for the ex­ca­va­tion of a sports oval on the side of a hill be­low the sight where he and the two oth­ers helped built a fence dur­ing their re­cent visit.

Gei Lin now has his sights set on fur­ther ven­tures with vil­lages clear­ing land to pre­pare for crops to be planted.

Yams have been cho­sen as a food to farm which were once a sta­ple for Burmese peo­ple be­fore they were in­tro­duced to rice.

The veg­etable is now hugely pop­u­lar in China.

“The big thing is we’re get­ting the lo­cals to clear the land and plant crops so they can have make an in­come,” Mr Chal­well said.

“It’s go­ing to take a few years to fully es­tab­lish but it’s a longterm in­vest­ment.

“We’re buy­ing the yams now and plant­ing out maybe a bit un­der half the area and then in three years’ time there’ll be enough seeds to plant the whole lot.

“Tra­di­tion­ally peo­ple in Min- dat have worked for food or just farmed their own crops but we’re giv­ing them the chance to be paid a wage if they want to.

“It will be $5.50 a day which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s above the award wage in the coun­try.”

Mr Chal­well said peo­ple from other vil­lages are tak­ing no­tice of what’s hap­pen­ing in Min­dat.

At the school young chil­dren are also be­ing taught three lan­guages, Burmese, English and the na­tive di­alect Cho, which Gei Lin and many his age don’t know how to read or write.

“Gei Lin’s big vi­sion is to ed­u­cate the kids, not so much our gen­er­a­tion but the next gen­er­a­tion so that when they are our age they won’t need us to help them any­more,” Mr Chal­well said.

Mr Chal­well said the Min­dat Project will soon be reg­is­tered as not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion.

They’re also hop­ing to spread more word about the work they are do­ing and have planned in Min­dat.

The group is look­ing for on­go­ing sup­port from lo­cal busi­nesses and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions some of which they have al­ready at­tracted here and in other parts of the state.

They’re also hop­ing lo­cals will do­nate ba­sic med­i­ca­tions like pain killers which will help stock the hospi­tal in Min­dat.

Peo­ple can con­tinue to do­nate to the Min­dat Project by vis­it­ing the Bendigo Bank in Bright.

“One-hun­dred per cent of the pro­ceeds that have been raised so far have gone go straight over to Min­dat, we don’t have any ad­min­is­tra­tive costs,” Mr Chal­well said.

CLEAN: Travis McGre­gor, Rhett Chal­well and Gei Lin Thang fill up a pot of wa­ter from the tank and pipe­line which lo­cal funds helped de­liver to vil­lages in Min­dat in Chin State, Myan­mar.

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