Myanmar – The “Flowers” centre

Renzo Andrich interviews Cynthia Khin Htwe Kyi (Yangon)

Renzo. Cynthia Khin Htwe Kyi is a medical doctor. She is co-founder of “Flowers”, which is a school offering also care and rehabilitation services in Myanmar. Cynthia, can you briefly summarize for us the mission and activities of your institution?

Cynthia. Yes. Our mission is to provide the systematic training that leads to a happy and well-adjusted life and the future of our children’s special needs. So, we are giving early detection to get early intervention; we also give resources for parents, professionals, teachers of these children; we also work with other government sectors to establish stronger policies upon these children.

Renzo. That is interesting. How did this work start? Can you tell us a little bit of your story?

Cynthia. Yes, it is a long story. 18 years ago, one of my friends shared her difficulties and challenges. She has a child with autism. She said it was quite difficult to find a school in Myanmar. At that time, I was in Vietnam. I decided: when I go back to Myanmar, I will start a training center or a school for these children with disability. So, in 2009, when I came back, I met one of the principals from the government schools, and with her help we started our “Flowers” special education and physiotherapy center in 2010. And from that, to respond the demands of the parents and of our country’s situation we have extended from basic education to middle school, elementary school.  In 2020 we have extended to high school.

Renzo. Wonderful. In your experience and from your perspective, what are the main barriers that people with disability encounters in society? What obstacles should be removed for a fully inclusive society?

Cynthia. For a fully inclusive society, we encounter the challenges of lack of human resources for special education (teachers, professionals). Another challenge is the lack of awareness, that is critical for early detection and early referral and early intervention.  We have policies and we have laws, but inclusiveness is not established properly, and government policy is not strong enough for the people with disabilities. These are the obstacles we are facing now.

Renzo. So, your institution is doing a really great job with empowering people to be active protagonists in society. What is the key factor of the results you have achieved so far? And what is your dream for the future?

Cynthia. Our key is the concept of “art of giving”, regardless of race and religions. We have respect for every people, every child, every parents. We have built a strong sense of family because of that. We have transparency and trust within our organization, among our parents and among our people with disabilities. We have our children in focus. We work, day by day, for our society becoming very united. We have formed networking and we work together. So, my dream – our dream – for the future is that all our children will nurture a fully inclusive society that respects their identity and makes it possible independent living for our children with disability.