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ThaBarWa Center

Thanlyin, Myanmar

For many residents, ThaBarWa Center is the last stop. Most have been shunned by their families or have none at all. They are sick, homeless, aged, destitute. They come from all parts of Myanmar, all categories of race and religion, all walks of life. Among them are teenaged mothers and great-grandmothers; former soldiers and former prostitutes; men and women battling addiction, mental illness, physical disabilities, and late-stage HIV/AIDS. No one is turned away from ThaBarWa Center. Now more than 3,500 Burmese citizens call it home, along with 500 monks, nuns, and novices and a rotating assembly of volunteers. It receives no government support—until last year, in fact, Myanmar's government was intent on shutting it down—and instead runs entirely on the power of good deeds. Sayadaw Ashin Ottamasara founded the center as a place to practice meditation and gain merit through constant mindfulness and boundless altruism. And indeed, it is a current that runs deep here—even patients with no more than a sheet of MDF board for a bed will eagerly share a scrap of food or a piece of wisdom, revealing vast stores of light in the heart of humankind. This series of portraits and interviews (found in the Lightbox view of each image) conveys some of it to visitors through ThaBarWa's websites and social media channels.   

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