A Place for May May
. . . and the displaced orphans of Myanmar’s civil war.
May May’s (not her real name) life has been difficult — more difficult than any 10-year-old girl should have to endure. After the death of her father, May May and her three siblings went to live with their grandparents. Subsistence farmers, her grandparents had no money to send the children to school, and the older kids had to work hard just to keep the family alive and together.
But life took a terrifying turn when the fighting of Myanmar’s civil war came to the area. In the world’s longest civil war, which has been smoldering since Myanmar’s independence shortly after World War 2, renewed violence flared up in 2011 and again in 2018. The recent conflicts have seen many villages completely destroyed in Kachin state, their people killed or scattered. Many have been forced to flee into the surrounding jungle to survive, but life there is harsh and uncertain. Families get separated and have no way to find each other again or even to know whether the others have survived.
When the Tatmadaw (gov-ernment troops) clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) close to their home, May May’s family lost everything they had: their home, their farm, their animals, and their hope. May May—and thousands like her—had no place of safety, no opportunity for schooling or a good future.
That changed when her grandparents learned about a brand new safe haven: Maranatha Educational Center for Orphans of the Civil War. They were grateful to be able to send their granddaughter away from the war zone to a place where she would be lovingly fed, educated, and provided with pastoral care and counseling.
What a difference Maranatha is making in May May’s life and the lives of others like her. When children arrive, the trauma they’ve endured is evident on their faces. Some are in dire physical condition, with malnutrition and parasites from jungle living common. Almost all are reclusive and disengaged—they don’t play, don’t talk much, don’t smile, and are fearful. But with prayer and care, these children undergo a physical and emotional metamorphosis. What a joy it is to see them becoming more responsive, playing again, and even smiling.
Currently, more than 50 children have found help and hope at Maranatha. With prayer and financial help from caring friends like you, there is hope that nearly 50 more can soon join them.