From Hunger to Hope: The Impact of Dry Food and Guitars on Vulnerable Children in Myanmar

Thank you to all who have donated to the dry food program and our benefit buy for sports and music to help keep the children of Myanmar boarding schools fed and safe and allow them to be kids again.

Myanmar has been a place of political conflict and strife for years, and it has taken a huge toll of the safety of the people there. Many people are considered stateless and have no papers linking them to any of the governing bodies that control different regions of the country. Healthcare systems are inadequate, as are school systems, and the economic climate is one of true poverty. Children are at risk of trafficking and forced child labor and are frequently deprived of education opportunities because their families are migrants who go wherever they can get their next short-term agriculture job.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

In this chaotic situation, GreaterGood is helping to make things a bit better for children in need by supporting boarding schools, also known as Karen schools (named for the Kayin province in which most are located) that house and educate vulnerable children. We fund their dry food program to help keep the kids fed so they can learn and grow appropriately.


MAKE A DONATION NOW TO FEED A CHILD IN NEED


Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

Our co-founder and CEO, Tim Kunin, found out about these children in need at the boarding schools more than 20 years ago while in Bangkok attending an international gift show and has been dedicated to helping them ever since. When he decided to fund the dry food program, he says it was because he felt the donations were doing double duty – not just feeding people in need but providing children the opportunity to grow up to be successful and have better lives:

“It was keeping kids in school, keeping them away from being trafficked, and allowing them to grow up and become productive, when these are people who are essentially stateless and have really no opportunity,” he says.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

MAKE A DONATION NOW TO FEED A CHILD IN NEED


If it weren’t for these boarding schools, many of the children who attend them would be traveling with their migrant families and unable to attend school. They would not have any education to speak of and would be at high risk for falling into trafficking situations. Most of them would be utilized for child labor. However, because the opportunity to go to boarding school exists, they are able to have stable access to shelter, food, education, and a steady routine.

The Mae Tao clinic in Thailand, under their Child Protection Department, runs 23 of these schools in migrant communities in Thailand and 15 in IDP areas of Myanmar. The clinic provides birth registration and legal documentation to displaced children and makes psychosocial support available to the children and their families. Their goal is to keep these children safe from harm, protect their rights, and give them the best start possible. We are so honored to be able to assist them by providing shelf-stable foods for their schools’ pantries.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

MAKE A DONATION NOW TO FEED A CHILD IN NEED


The clinic and schools used to be funded by government programs like USAID, AusAID, and the Japan Fund, but under the Obama Administration, much of this government-backed support was shifted away from the borders to other areas. Most of Mae Tao’s financial support went out the window in a very short period of time, and GreaterGood picked up the slack by funding the dry food program, along with the safe birth project at the Mae Tao Clinic and other smaller efforts along the way.

“It’s weird for a little company to do something like this. We essentially took on the role that USAID used to have. Their budgets are billions, and our budgets are what we can raise.”

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

GreaterGood now provides the dry foods for all of the Karen schools run by the Mae Tao Clinic and the Karen Women Organisation (KWO), meaning several thousand children benefit from your donations each year. We provide staples such as yellow beans, rice, tinned fish, oil, salt, and other seasonings. These rations ensure that the children get adequate protein and carbohydrate intake, as well as fiber and other important nutrients.


MAKE A DONATION NOW TO FEED A CHILD IN NEED


Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

Just 33 cents a day provides life-sustaining support to a child in need through the dry food program. With your help, we can ensure that these children continue to feel safe and supported and have their bellies filled so they can learn and grow like all children should. May they never know the extent of the cruelty they have been saved from, and may they be allowed to flourish in the type of carefree childhood that all kids deserve.

In a place where children live in poverty, uncertainty, and danger, you can be the reason a child knows the feeling of safety and is confident in knowing where his next meal will come from. Click below to learn more about giving to the dry food program.

Tim Kunin typically travels to one of the Karen schools every year, the Kaw Moo Rah Junior College, to see how our dry food donations make an impact and to find out what else can be done to support the children. The school is located in a liberated territory of Myanmar, and it is accessed by crossing the river between Thailand and Myanmar via a dugout canoe. It has been moved twice after being burned down in the fighting, but it is still going strong and serving the children in the area.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

Tim says many of the children do not speak English very well and are therefore a bit shy, but one of the older children once asked him not to forget them when he went back home. “And so I’ve taken that to heart, and I don’t forget them,” he says.

Although he had to take a break from the trips during COVID, Tim was back in Myanmar and Thailand in January of 2024. The school held a ceremony in honor of his arrival.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

MAKE A DONATION NOW TO FEED A CHILD IN NEED


“I’ve seen the growth in that community,” Tim says. “Many of the staff at Mae Tao clinic were kids who attended some of these schools. It’s exciting to build on that relationship and to be acknowledged, as we we’ve been their largest funder now for several years.”

On this trip, Tim brought a special gift for the children – guitars, soccer balls, and other sports equipment to help them regain their childhoods in the midst of chaos.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

Several years ago, Tim’s son brought a guitar with him on a visit to the schools and the kids loved it. The popularity of the guitar gave Tim the idea to start bringing guitars and sports equipment to the schools for enrichment and learning purposes. He says watching the kids GreaterGood has supported flourish and grow over the years is “the most exciting thing in my life.”

For Americans and other people in wealthy nations, these additions may seem like trivial things, but to the children at these boarding schools, a guitar or a soccer ball makes all the difference. They don’t have phones or tablets or many toys, and many of them are missing their families and trying to forget traumatic events from their past. Having a hobby and something to spend their free time doing is both a distraction and a way to gain a new skill they can be proud of.

Photo: GreaterGood/Tim Kunin

Sports are a wonderfully healthy form of active play, and they’re also a great way for the children to bond with one another and learn about teamwork. Guitars and other musical instruments exercise the mind and teach kids about math, rhythm, and a variety of other concepts. We’re proud to provide these valuable pieces of play equipment to children who may not otherwise have access to music and sports to enrich their education experiences and their lives.

You can help us give these kids their childhoods back by donating today. Click below to support our effort to provide enrichment activities to the children through donations of musical instruments and sports equipment.

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