Thabarwa volunteering

Recommendation: Spend time with people different than you

During my week volunteering at the Thabarwa Center, I helped with medical services (mostly bathing elderly people), did alms (walked to nearby villages with monks to collect donations), food preparation (lots of chopping), and taught English to children.

The center offers refuge to people from all over Myanmar who need care. As of August 2021, the center cares for 4,425 people including elderly, sick, blind, deaf, disabled, homeless, and mentally ill. At the center, they practice and teach from the Buddhism traditions. The mission behind the center is to provide care to all people without restriction - Food, lodging, and Buddhist teachings are all provided free of charge.

Being at the Thabarwa Center was an eye-opening experience. From my perspective, these people were suffering greatly - the living conditions were painful to see, yet they all smiled and cared for one another with love and acceptance. Many of the elderly slept on a mental bed, without a mattress. It made me think twice before complaining about the 2-inch mattress I got to use on the floor where I slept next to approximately 30 other volunteers from around the world.

All the volunteers inspired me. Some stayed for months, others just a few days. We all sweat profusely in the hot, humid air that was Myanmar. But more importantly, we all cared for the people living at the Thabarwa center. If you're interested in learning some Buddhist teachings and volunteering, this place will change your life forever.

To end with words of the Thabarwa mission statement: “Through a combination of doing good deeds with detachment, and developing our mindfulness with meditation, we understand more and more how to better deal with life's inevitable struggle”.