OVERSEAS VOLUNTEERS Lyn and Gordon Pfeiffer.
OVERSEAS VOLUNTEERS Lyn and Gordon Pfeiffer.

Myanmar crusader changing children's lives

LYN Pfeiffer has been on a crusade and her husband Gordon has supported her every step of the way of Lyn's goal to make a positive change to the lives of young people in Myanmar.

The volunteer English language guide, who is 77, has just returned to Buderim from her annual trip to the Myatmangalar Buddhist Culture Center in northern Yangon. which is located in the southern area of Mynamar.

Gordon, 93, wasn't able to travel with her this year due to health concerns.

"When my second marriage ended I went to college to do welfare," Lyn said. "So, I have been involved in running projects in the Territory; crusades really."

Gordon and Lyn married in 2003. The former Chrysler Canada vice-president, jokes about Lyn's crusades, but clearly comfortably engages with her in these experiences.

"Lyn married me and promised me no children," Gordon joked. So, they took to travelling the world until in 2012 a visit to China revealed an opportunity to volunteer overseas.

The plan was to go to Nepal, but when the Chinese authorities closed the border they headed to what was then known as Burma.

"We fell in love with the place," Gordon said. "Then Lyn got the idea, 'I would like to do something in this country'."

'The capacity to care is what gives life it's greatest meaning', is a sign Lyn saw during her earlier travels.

"To me, that is so important," Lyn said. "I always thought I was a bit odd because I was trying to fix things up, but it's a meaning in life for me, and Gordon now."

Through one of the guides they met in Mynamar, they were introduced to a Canadian woman, Louise Desy, who was running an orphanage which she set up after the devastation of the 2008 Nargis cyclone.

What they found on visiting for the first time the following year was an orphanage and monastery with a March summer school where 300 children learn English. Since then a team of Canadians have rebuilt the orphanage which houses 50 children.

"They now have two university graduates from the time they began," Gordon said. "Lyn and her cousin, Bronwyn, have been going regularly since 2013".

The school has a syllabus from Cambridge University which the Pfeiffers use to help a class of about 50 children to spell, do maths, sing, pronounce and read in English, or as Gordon said, "we really teach them Australian". As they don't have a government permit, they aren't there officially as teachers.

"The people are very welcoming, very hospitable," Gordon added.

Much has changed in the area since 2008. Chinese money has flowed in and the population has increased to create a huge city, but the needs of the orphans remain.

Gordon suggests any senior who wants to follow a volunteer path such as his and Lyn's should contact Buderim's Goodlife Church.

"What I get out of it is I feel that I have an extended family," Gordon said. "People who have no knowledge of my life and other countries; we can tell them something about life and they want to know."

"For me it's about something I can share with Gordon; something we love doing together," Lyn added.

As Gordon can no longer get travel insurance it's unlikely he will return to Myanmar. But that's okay because Lyn already has another crusade in mind; something to do with welfare in her local community.

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