A Refuge for Burma’s Elderly Poor

Burma elderly, Burma social spending, Myanmar elderly care

An aide helps shower an old man who suffered stroke. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

THANLYIN, Rangoon — At this privately run Buddhist home for the poor and aged in south Rangoon all are welcome. Contrary to most of the senior citizen centers in Burma, the Thabarwa Center in Thanlyin Township opens its door to homeless, sick, physically and mentally disabled old people.

The center provides shelter to more than 600 people and is a rare sanctuary for sick senior citizen with no families to take care of them. Thabarwa provides them with food, clothing and medical care free of charge. In the event of death, the center also performs the last funeral rites for residents and a decent burial.

With no proper social welfare service from the government it is becoming common in cities across Burma to see old people without family support struggling to survive, begging for money at busy public places.

According to the government figures from last year, more than 70 privately run homes for poor and aged people across nationwide have taken care of about 3,000 old people. Last year, Burma’s first Day Care Center for old people opened in Rangoon and welcomed 30 people.

It’s difficult to know the exact size of Burma’s elderly population. With a nationwide census recently completed, more data on the country’s senior citizens is expected to be publicized next year.

One Response to A Refuge for Burma’s Elderly Poor

  1. Buddhism has been respected for its generous and compassionate mission throughout the ages. Wirathu must not be allowed to hijack its wonderful tradition. I had more friends from Buddhist Myanmars, Rakhines and Mons than my fellow christian students when I was studying at Rangoon University in 1980s. I went back to Myanmar in 2013 for a few weeks stay. The first ones I was trying to find them were Buddhist friends. They were excited to meeting me and we were laughing together again after more than twenty years of living apart. The core of religious belief is love. Love is the most powerful tool to bring peace in the life of a desperate one. Care of the elderly persons and the needy ones is the precious thing we all need to try to offer when we are able. Thabarwa Center will spread the word of love to the nation. I hope it will multiply and fruitful.

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