People waking up at 5 in the morning in Thabarwa

info
×

MYANMAR'S CITY OF JOY


January 2016


When Ashin Ottamasara left his dissatisfying supermarket business and decided to become a monk, there was no space in dictatorship-ridden Myanmar for most of society’s reject. People who were poor, lonely, severely sick, old, drug addicted, alcoholic and generally helpless, had no other choice than rambling the streets of the country.


Ottamasara’s vision was to create a place where all these people could find sanctuary and improve their life conditions, through the teachings of meditation. Thanks to a series of donation, the ‘Thabarwa center for meditation’ was established in 2008 in Thanlyin, a port city on the outskirts of former Myanmar’s capital Yangon.



Despite governmental hostility during the first years, the center has continued to grow, especially after Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi took power after 2015’s elections, starting a transition towards democracy, after decades of military dictatorship in Myanmar. Over 3000 people, belonging to different ethnic groups, struggling with different precarious conditions, arrived at the center from the four corners of the country. ‘Thabarwa’ became a shelter and a home for many, a place where people could get back to life, or peacefully surrender to death and to the path to reincarnation.


Every day new people arrives to the center, such that there is currently not enough space to host all the needed. Many newcomers have no bed to sleep. Those who are very sick can find no chance to get healed. 


There are no doctors working in the center, besides a Korean acupuncture volunteer and some nurses, who visit some patients once a week. A group of international volunteers, mainly backpackers traveling through Myanmar, are helping out with whatever knowledge they possess.


However, thanks to the many donations, the center is growing, new buildings are under constructions, and Ashin Ottamasara, who is trying to establish similar centers, both in the US and Italy, believes that with hard work and meditation, in the future Thabarwa could provide better service to its patients. What matter for now, according to its founder, is that everyone, regardless of their diseases or place of origins, can find sanctuary.

Devotees asking for help to the founder of Thabarwa, monk Ashin Ottamasara, also portrayed in the photo above

info
×

A monk chanting on the early morning at his hut in Thabarwa

info
×

People discussing at the administration center of Thabarwa

info
×

A room in Thabarwa where four women and a few cats are living together

info
×

All the patients who have recently arrived are sleeping over a small mattress or a blanket at the Dharmahall of the center

info
×

A woman falling down in the middle of the night, and being helped by other patients of Thabarwa

info
×

A monk meditating in the Dharmahall

info
×

Monk having breakfast in Thabarwa

info
×

Monks in Yangon departing to collect the alms from the devotees, which are shared for the lunch that take place every day at 11

info
×

Monks in Yangon collecting the alms from the devotees, which are shared for the lunch that take place every day at 11

info
×

One of the patients of the so-called ‘hospital’, which in fact is just a building offering people sanctuary, after the lunch

info
×

One of the patients of the so-called ‘hospital’, which in fact is just a building offering people sanctuary, after the lunch

info
×

One of the patients of the so-called ‘hospital’, which in fact is just a building offering people sanctuary, after the lunch

info
×

Patients of the so-called ‘hospital’, which in fact is just a building offering people sanctuary, after the lunch

info
×

Streets of Thabarwa

info
×

‘They will not survive more than 2 weeks” - At the gates of the center, the most desperate people, just waiting to die

info
×

‘They will not survive more than 2 weeks” - At the gates of the center, the most desperate people, just waiting to die

info
×

Sopapa is an ethnic Karen and has become alcoholic after his wife and daughter left him.

info
×

Ismail is suffering from a store since 2013. His brothers and sisters abandoned him because he should had inherit the most from his dead parents. His wife divorced because of the stroke. A volunteer is helping him in Thabarwa.

info
×

Daw She, 110 years old, the oldest guest of Thabarwa center, on the bed where she sleeps

info
×

An international volunteer helping and cleaning an old sick man staying since few years in Thabarwa

info
×

A nurse measuring the pressure of a sick woman at the Dharmahall

info
×

Patients waiting during the acupuncture treatment given by a Korean volunteer doctor

info
×

Construction workers at Thabarwa center, which is aiming to expand to offer shelter to the people who are waiting

info
×

Buddhist children playing nearby one of the pagodas in the area of Thabarwa

info
×

Construction workers at Thabarwa center, which is aiming to expand to offer shelter to the people who are waiting

info
×

The new area of the temple under constructions beside Thabarwa center

info
×

Chit Htoo, 5 years old, has polio. He grew up with a dog pretending he is a dog as well.

info
×

Chit Htoo, 5 years old, has polio. He grew up with a dog pretending he is a dog as well.

info
×
Using Format