We all know dragons know how to make fire. But they also need to know how to put fire out for safety purposes. That’s why part of the Little Dragons Life Skills program includes a section on Fire Safety.
When Thaw Lin, the Little Dragons First Aid and Fire Safety Officer, sent us this shopping list:
we thought – that’s an awful lot of flammable materials - and knew we were in for some serious fun. We trawled the North Dagon roadside recycling centres for containers for the fuels, metal demo trays and firewood. After some bafflement and mystified looks we gathered together all that was needed. At the petrol station they used an old school metal jug and funnel to transfer the flammable liquids into the preloved plastic containers we’d just acquired.
Thaw Lin, formerly a Platoon Commander in the Fire Service now works at Uniteam training, delivering safety training for Oil and Gas workers and Merchant Shipping crews. The Little Dragons were captivated by his lecture, which consisted of the science behind how fires are made, the different types of fire extinguishers and which are best for different types of fire. This was followed by a short First Aid section. In a later session, the concepts learned will be reinforced through gamified exercises using rugby equipment.
At the end of the lecture we had a quick drinks break then went off to do the practical. We must have looked a bit strange, it’s not often you see a group of young people carrying petrol, diesel, wood and fire extinguishers down the street - in any country – let alone in suburban, semi rural Yangon.
Fortunately the boss of the local fire service was eating in a nearby tea shop on the way and Thaw Lin convinced him that we didn’t pose a threat to public health.
Once we arrived at the field face masks were donned and the practical demonstration began. A concoction of diesel and petrol was poured onto the wood and set alight and each Little Dragon got a turn to put out the fire. After calling out “Me! Me!” (Fire! Fire! In Burmese) they aimed the extinguisher at the base of the conflagration, squeezed the handle and the fire went out.
“Dry powder fire extinguishers work by chemical reaction with the fire causing the particles to expand, chemically inhibiting combustion and expelling the oxygen thereby smothering the flames.” fireandsafetycentre.co.uk
Ko Thint Myat was then on hand to reignite the wood for the next Little Dragon to take their turn.
The dry season brings with it a layer of dust that covers most of the city. It’s also the first time in months that any of the playing surfaces are dry enough to run around on without sliding around like on an ice rink.
We drew quizzical glances as the novices looked at us with wary anticipation – we’d come before back in the last dry season but the playing area was covered in rubble so we did drills and team building games in the cramped courtyard in front the school building. This time we ran the session in the playing field that still has some rather inconveniently placed trees and opportunities to stub your toe so hard it knocks the nail clean off.
Laughter came in trickles as we began the warm up – lunges, opening and closing the gate, high knees and heel flicks. Then it was tag-belts, robes, shaved heads and clouds of dust as we did the “up and under” game, 2 on 1s, 3 on 2s and into a version of netball/rugby/basketball that will be moulded more into to the shape of the oval balled game over time. New coach Zar Ni Kyaw turned up a little late but interpreted the instructions well and helped reduce the wild gesticulating and frantic demonstrations that preceded her arrival.
None of this would have been possible without Ko Aung Ko Oo. Open minded, receptive and keen, Ko Aung Ko Oo is the Education Policy Manager at the Monastic Education Development Group (MEDG). This community organisation supports the improvement of Monastic Education across Myanmar. Registered with Ministry of Religious affairs, these schools act as low cost or no cost private schools covering the national curriculum often to the most disadvantaged children. To date MEDG has been working in seven states and has delivered support to over 445 schools. MEDG plans to roll out support to over 900 schools by 2017.
After the session there were big smiles and cheers. This is the third group the Little Dragons work with and Ko Aung Ko Oo has agreed to select 30 novices we can train regularly and develop into the first monastic Rugby team in Myanmar.
A little bit about our partners: Strong Flowers Sexuality Education & Myanmar Women's Self Defense Center
The two ladies running the Reproductive Health section of the Little Dragons’ life skills program are Dr. Thet Su Htwe and Miss Evelyn Yu Yu Swe.
The Doctor is the founder and lead trainer for Strong Flowers Sexuality Education, an organization that offers sexuality and reproductive health education services. She is a family physician who also works as a freelance sexuality consultant and is currently the lead sexuality trainer at Myanmar Women's Self Defense Center. She formerly conducted sexuality training for the Women's Voices Project at Metta Development Foundation. She was also a sexuality teacher for teenaged girls at two religious girls' school in Yangon, where she approached the topic of sexuality from a religious context.
Evelyn is a Philosophy and Political Science graduate from The College of Wooster and a founder and managing partner at the Myanmar Women's Self Defense Center. She acquired a teaching certification and taught English, History, and Social Science before she began working on social enterprises. Now she runs communications, research, and curriculum building at MWSDC and works closely with The Doctor on Strong Flowers projects.
Both Strong Flowers Sexuality Education and Myanmar Women's Self Defense Center started from the same belief that people should have access to knowledge about their bodies and physicality. Both programs operate under the belief that better understanding about our bodies and our embodied experience in the world will lead to greater equality and justice.
The organizations are concerned with reducing gender-based violence and exploitation. Strong Flowers is focused on doing this through a comprehensive sexuality education, which promotes respect for our gendered bodies and minds. Meanwhile, Myanmar Women's Self Defense Center recognizes the violence inherent in women's day to day experiences and empowers women to defend themselves against the immediate threat of sexual violence, allowing them to move freely and without fear in the world.
Ben Mudd, Rugby and Development enthusiast.