At the end of April we were delighted to welcome Fr Pius Win Than, CAFOD partner from Pathein Diocese in Myanmar, to our diocese during his first trip to the UK.
Fr Pius is Associate Director of Caritas Pathein. Fr Pius and Caritas Pathein were directly involved in aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, the worst cyclone to hit Myanmar and have been leading on helping communities to rebuild after the disaster.
Fr Pius’ first stop was St Paul’s Secondary School in Leicester, beginning with a guided tour of the beautiful new school buildings, led by three confident and friendly members of the Student Council, Kesna, Kevin and Greta. Fr Pius then spoke to two groups of year 10 students who were all studying poverty and effective ways to alleviate it as part of their RE course. The school community kindly provided lunch and the opportunity to meet a small group of student Parish Ambassadors, 6th form students who had taken part in the schools trip to Ghana last year and further members of the student council.
Thank you to Seamus O’Looskan, Chaplain, and all staff and students involved, for their hospitality and warmth. Fr Pius was very impressed by the school and was very interested in the British education system in general. He said he was going home with lots of photographs and new ideas!
In the evening, Fr Pius was hosted by Mother of God Parish in Leicester , where he was able to speak to a groups of interested CAFOD supporters and volunteers from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby and to answer their questions. Thanks go to those parishioners who set up the room and provided refreshments as well as to all those who made the effort to attend.
In each of his presentations, Fr Pius explained with the aid of photographs, what it had been like to be experience Cyclone Nargis and the work that had been done since to provide preparedness training for children and adults to mitigate the effect of future disasters. Caritas Pathein is also working with several communities to improve food security through better farming methods and community rice banks, improve access to clean drinking water and provide training in hygiene and provide education for children through volunteer teachers and provision of nursery schooling.
Fr Pius pointed out that Caritas Pathein does not just work with Catholics and that most communities are majority Buddhist. This even-handness, together with the success of the work around disaster risk reduction, in particular, has led to increasingly good relations with Buddhist leaders and the government authorities.
Fr Pius ended by offering his heartfelt gratitude to all those who support CAFOD financially as it helps to make his work a reality and improve the lives of the communities with which he works.