„Learn to Live“ Training mit buddhistischen Mönchen erfolgreich

Das "Learn to Live" Training wurde im Oktober 2009 erfolgreich durchgeführt. Fünfzehn Äbte und Mönche nahmen an dem Seminar teil, deren Ziele und Inhalte Sie in unterem Bericht ersehen können. Es macht keinen Sinn zu versuchen alles alleine zu machen, effektivere Ergebnisse können wir erzielen, indem wir mit anderen Organisationen vor Ort zusammen arbeiten und uns austauschen. So war es auch mit dem Seminar, das hoffentlich den Menschen, die im Shan Staat unter der Besatzung der burmesischen Armee leben müssen, Rat, Unterstützung und Erleichterung bringen wird. Durchgeführt wurde der Kurs unter dem Titel "Learn to Live", an der mehrere Organisationen, mit denen wir zusammen arbeiten den Part vor Ort durchführten, Helfen ohne Grenzen finanzierte das Seminar.

Hier eine gute Englischlektion, viel Spaß!


It is somewhat challenging to condense an experience such as the second Learn to Live training into a report. We can of course report on how many days the program went for, who the trainers and trainees were, where they came from, what subjects were covered, how many people the training could impact and what it cost. Harder to convey are the relationships that developed, the mutual friendships and trust that were formed, the sense of privilege all the trainers had working with this courageous group and the determination of all of us involved to continue to develop the knowledge and leadership base inside Shan State using the temple network.

The training took place for thirteen days from Monday October 12 through to Saturday October 25, 2009. This training was longer, had more attendees, more trainers and covered more subjects that the first training at the same location in March 2009. The biggest development was the evolution of Learn to Live into a 3-tiered development model being education, community health and economic development.


We had fifteen attendees from ten temples attend the program. Seven temples represented were in the Kengtung region of Eastern Shan State and the other three were from Hsipaw in Shan State North. This was a younger group, with a good number of monks in their early to mid twenties. We were hugely fortunate to have the services of Sao Noi during the training who was our translator between English, Shan & Thai. Sao Noi’s verbal and written translations were of the highest quality through the two weeks and much of the success of the training is due to his committed and tireless volunteer effort.


The training began with the opening blessing and introductions then moved into Community Health training for three days lead by Stu Corlett from Partners Relief and Development and Dr. Ken McFarlane, a GP from New Zealand. Using the Shan translation of the field medicine book ‘Where There Are No Doctors’ Stu and Ken took the monks through a series of trainings on hygiene, STDs, accidents, infectious diseases, public health, diagnostics and treatment.

“It was a real privilege for me to share this time of learning with the monks. I ended up learning a lot from the experience as well as having a chance to help them with learning about healthcare. They were a great group to work with and quickly picked up the ideas that we were putting forward. The three days came to a really good conclusion with the distillation of the health needs which they saw as important, into the basis of a health curriculum for teachers, which was focused through a public health lens.

One of the highlights for me was the interview with the monk who had been to the previous course, and realising that this quiet man who had sat beside me through the teaching, had gone back, passed the things he had taught on to a significant number of other people and teachers – in spite of the adverse conditions and restrictions of the Burmese army – and who in effect directly multiplied the impact of the Learn to Live course directly by a factor or 6 or 8, and indirectly had affected hundreds of people” – Dr Ken McFarlane – GP.

The remaining four days of Week 1 were spent with two Shan teachers training the group on Shan History and Shan Language teaching techniques. Again Shan History proved very popular with the trainees, particularly certain aspects of the last 60 years which are forbidden to talk of inside Burma. It is a most enlightening thing for these men to study and discuss their own history without impediment. All the group were afire with the desire to go and share this important information, albeit discreetly, with their communities.

Week 2 began with the arrival of the Teacher Trainers from Khom Loy Development Foundation to begin their 5 days of training. Teachers Damaris, Chino, Peter and Lee started Monday with their Montessori style, child-based teacher-training. It was an incredible sight to see Damaris from Kenya and Chino from Karen State instructing these revered monks in playful learning for early education. The monks entered into this with a great spirit and during this week there were many raucous moment. Importantly, the trainees absorbed the ideas of child-based learning utilizing a series of atypical Montessori equipment such as chops sticks and pebbles, all freely available in their home villages.

Guest Speakers :

We were fortunate to have some excellent guest speakers during this training: Dr. Phra. Thani, a Thai-based, ethically Shan monk with a PHD in Development came to address the group. His was a very significant presence as he is a highly respected monk and his speciality is on using Buddhist temples as centers of community development. Dr. Thani’s work and community in Wiang Heng, Chiang Mai province represents a wonderful model for the Learn to Live program and is ripe for reproduction across Shan State. Dr. Thani presented the 3- tiered approach of education, community health and economic development referring to his own highly successful projects he began some eight years ago. He teaches development as ‘applied Buddhism” and we could not have hoped for a better instructor to get these concepts across to the group. They all responded with a seriously expanded enthusiasm to apply these ideas to their own contexts.

Kuen Sai is the founding director of the Shan Herald Agency for News and a famous Shan thinker and leader. He spoke about his own idea of Buddhist philosophy and how it can be applied to the situation of living under Burmese oppression that has been the status quo now for five decades. He also spoke of the role of the monks and the temples and the potential for civic development that they represent.Paul Hancock, founder of Khom Loy Development Foundation gave a lively session on economic development. If we are to utilize the temples as schools there must be some funding created to pay for certain needs.

Paul has been researching and working in this area of selfsustaining schools now for six years. He was able to give an thorough introduction on the ideas and covered a wide area of potential micro-enterprises that could be applied to the temple communities. The students could see that by developing agricultural and/or handicraft enterprises they would be greatly empowered to better run education and community health projects.

Boon Kham is a very highly respected former monk that now works on numerous projects  inside Shan State. He came to present on the final evening, his subject was modern Buddhism. In many ways his subject matter was in a similar vein to that to Dr. Thani and Kuen Sai, how to take Buddhism into the modern context and make it a force for good for the embattled Shan people.

Mr. Kim was engaged by Partners as a researcher for their human rights report. Kim gave a very well received presentation on Human Rights that went long into the night. He ended up staying the night with the students in the temple and they were absorbed deeply in this subject. Poncho Cottier was a foreign volunteer who has spent some time at one of the temple schools near Kengtung. He delivered a lecture on the non-violent philosophy of Mohandis Ghani and looked at a series of historical contexts where these principles had been applied, most notably Gahndi’s India and Dr. King’s America. This formed the basis of a fascinating discussion on how such ideas might be incorporated, if at all, into the Shan Burma context. Ben Bowler, co-founder of Blood Foundation gave several talks during the training on education as freedom.

Costs: The total cost for this training was 128 391 Baht.

Outcomes: The training was significant on many levels, one of the main ones being the evolution of the program toward a more complete approach to development. The importance of economic development was reinforced during lectures by Phra Thani and Paul Hancock. Paul gave away bags of seeds to the monks which they have been plantin, Paul has also paid a follow up visit to Kengtung to continue the process of exploring ways of developing micro enterprise.

Furthermore the basic model of utilizing the temple network (Sangha) as centers of community development has been further enhanced by the involvement and ideas of Boon Kham, Kuen Sai, Prhra Thani and the students themselves. We are all more assured than ever that this model can be effective in delivering education services and other information into and across Shan State.

Each monk was given a copy of the medical hand book ‘Where there are no Doctors’ – a highly respected village medicine reference book that will be extremely useful for their communities. Additionally each monk received Language and History text books to take home as well as English-Shan dictionaries and numerous other useful hand-outs.

From an education perspective these men directly teach some 700 students, boys and girls themselves. Not taking into account the other teachers and adults they will train and pass the knowledge onto, this works out to around $5 per child to deliver improved teaching techniques for Math, Shan language and History, as well as better Community Health knowledge, ideas for micro-enterprise and a host of other relevant and important subjects.


In every sense the second Learn to Live training was a great success. We again learned much about the situation on the ground in Shan State and how we can deliver services into there by working with the monk’s network. While education remains the centerpiece of the program the glaring need for increased community health awareness as well as the appalling lack of economic development means there is a broad spectrum of need and health and micro enterprise will remain important and expanding aspects of future trainings. We see also the possibility of specialist health and enterprise trainings that would deal with these areas in greater specificity.

The connection with Phra Thani was very significant and if the logistics can be arranged we would pursue the possibility of holding trainings at his facility in Chang Dao. Phra Thani has been approached regarding this and would welcome such a development.

Foreign volunteer Sarah Eisa travelled to Kengtung in January to do some follow up monitoring of several of the monks in the training. Her informal report is available upon request. The main thing we learned from this feedback is the importance of recruiting monks who are already involved in full time education. This may not always be possible but it is certainly something we are aiming at.

The following training L2L T3 is scheduled for the second half of April at a yet to be determined location. We see great potential in this model and our hope is to scale up the trainings and continue to transfer teaching training, health training, enterprise coaching and other important knowledge and information into Shan communities, delivered through the good and brave men of the Shan Buddhist Sangha.

Karl Förster

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