One remarkable person, Rev. Dr Mawi Van Ro, who was researching for his PhD on Death and Dying in Chin Culture, discovered our Dying At Home website www.dyingathome.org and became very interested to learn how our Dying At Home Program could benefit his people in Chin State Myanmar.
This connection and evolving friendship of like minded people, moved actively through many months sharing knowledge, and for us to learn from Rev. Mawi aspects of Chin culture, about the dying person and their Carer, their definition of a good death, burials, mourning rituals and beliefs. Chin State is unique since about 80% of people are Christian after the influence of American missionaries in the early 19th and 20th centuries and it is the poorest region in Myanmar. We received an invitation to teach our Dying At Home Program training the men and women pastors whose special work is the care of the dying people in their villages.
Our teaching team comprised Gerard and Helen-Anne Manion, Kathy and David Dansie and Ray Arthur. It was a very special experience to arrive in Yangon then travel to Kalaymyo. The training program was conducted over 10 days, meeting at the Taungphila Baptist Church, Tahan Myanmar. Whilst there, we were privileged to be included in the mourning rituals and burial of an elder pastor so we learned by experience the significance of this time of life and the richness of the culture of ceremony and mourning. We were all deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to be ‘one with’ these beautiful people.
We were supported in Australia to provide food for the 60 trainee pastors and to have our books and handouts translated into Burmese.
Throughout our training we received superb assistance from Rev. Bernard who tirelessly interpreted all our sessions with great expertise. The hot steamy weather, meals prepared by a hard working local group of people and shared outside the church seemed to really bond us with those 60 participants and we were very privileged to be there. Wonderful people, so openly enthusiastic and we watched them seize on the great benefit of our teaching to develop a cultural change of compassionate care towards the family Caregiver and their dying loved one.
The remarkable contribution of Rev. Mawi has continued onwards with his training programs and there are now well over 600 teaching families the Dying At Home Program and using the booklets in villages in Chin State.