Feb 18, 2016

Business Opportunities Abound in Myanmar

It is the day after the historic Friendship City agreement is signed linking Fort Wayne and Mawlamyine in a cultural embrace and today the Sister Cities delegation that made it happen is putting it in motion. The is Mawlamyine’s High School Number Six, a huge compound built by the British while Abraham Lincoln was still President, and these halls have changed little in their 150 years. School officials offer elaborate refreshments to welcome the American visitors, and then it’s time to meet the students.

2600 first through twelfth graders study here with not much more than pencils and paper. This is the computer room for the entire school, ten obsolete machines and no internet. But some of these students now have a chance to broaden their horizons. The friendship city agreement calls for student exchanges between Mawlamyine and Fort Wayne and some of these kids could be part of that.

“They would be able to come to Fort Wayne, Indiana for probably one or two weeks we hope and live with our residents in a home stay,” says Sister Cities delegate Dorothy Kittaka, “get the feeling of the culture and the education of Fort Wayne, Indiana and what it’s like to be in the United States.”

This school also illustrates a potential gold mine for American companies. Doug Ahlfeld of Churubusco’s Renewable Energy Systems and Robert Stone of Fort Wayne’s Franklin Electric inspect the schools well. This pump house provides water for nearly three thousand students and faculty.

“It’s a very archaic water system,” says Robert Stone. “Woefully inadequate. But they’re able to survive and to get by but it’s not anything you’d find acceptable in any other place in the world really.”

Franklin Electric has just developed a low cost, solar powered water pump to replace systems like this. It could also provide reliable, clean drinking water to thousands of remote Burmese villages…the potential is huge. Potential here, too, at one of Mawlamyine’s public hospitals. This equipment was obsolete decades ago and everything is in short supply; they’re reusing iv drip bags in the cancer ward. Most of this city, most of the country lacks modern conveniences and infrastructure, and sixty years of isolation have created a great hunger for the things Fort Wayne and the united states can offer…beginning with friendship.

Source: 21alive.com