Joop Braakhekke, bestuurslid en
ambassadeur van Flying Teachers
Joop was in alles een bevlogen en sociaal betrokken mens. Creatief en veelzijdig. Filosofisch en fijngevoelig.
In 2003 gaf hij in de toenmalige Galerie van zijn restaurant ‘le Garage’ het platform om mijn eerste foto expositie over Burma mogelijk te maken.
Joop regelde bovendien alle publiciteit er omheen. Het vormde de start van de oprichting van de stichting Flying Teachers.
Vanaf 2009 zette hij zich actief in als ambassadeur tijdens de promotie van het fotoboek ‘children of the Buddha’.
Hij wilde zo graag nog een keer mee naar Burma, de scholen zien. Het heeft niet zo mogen zijn.
Ik verlies in hem mijn beste vriend.
Lieve Joop, R.I.P.
On July 30, 2015 Cyclone ‘Komen’ made landfall in Bangladesh, bordering Northern Rakhine in Burma. Sadly this is the area where hundreds of thousands Rohingya are isolated by the army and trapped. One of the many human disasters going on in the country. The continued heavy rains have caused floods and landslides in many parts of the country during the last two weeks of July. Especially in the Northern state of Kachin, where massive illegal logging by the Chinese has caused erosion and devastating landslides. As of August 6, the Ministry of Social Welfare reported that over 217,000 people have been affected and 46 people have been killed across 12 states and regions. Due to many parts in Northern Rakhine and Chin States being totally isolated, the counts of affected victims and the death count may dramatically increase, once rescue teams will have reached these parts. Flooding is moving further south with the states of Rakhine, Western Sagaing and Chin now officially declared disaster areas. Flood waters in the mountainous Northern State of Kachin appear to be drying for the moment, but new rains are expected. There are serious threats that the swollen rivers will carry the floodwaters downstream to the Ayerwaddy Delta, where preventive evacuations are currently going on. The Delta is the very same region where Cyclone Nargis caused havoc back in 2008.
At the time hat disaster prompted Flying Teachers to initiate the construction of schools, after over 900 school buildings had been destroyed.
Flying Teachers has made a donation of € 10,000.00 to the Sitagu Organization of the Senior abbot monk Sitagu Sayadaw, the spiritual leader of Burma, to help immediate relief efforts. Same as in 2008, it again are the Buddhist monks who are the first on the disaster scene to act, to give shelter and feed the population. Sitagu Sayadaw presently is in Austin Texas, the U.S. base of the Sitagu Buddha Vihara Temple, to raise donations from his large Buddhist constituency there. The reverent Sitagu Sayadaw is returning to his country later this week. As Burma’s spiritual leader he is organizing all the domestic relief efforts through the thousands of monks all over the country. Flying Teachers’ Charlie Hilm and Sitagu are calling each other almost daily.
In December 2013 Sitagu Sayadaw paid Charlie Hilm, the founder of Flying Teachers, a surprise visit. Hilm invited Sitagu on a cruise with an antique saloon boat along the Amsterdam canals, during which Sitagu was served a typical Burmese dish, Mohinga soup with rice. As a Buddhist monk, the last meal during the day is to be taken before noon. The boat halted for half an hour near the house where Flying Teachers is located. Sayadaw (Abbot) Sitagu gave Hilm a tremendous honour to pay this uniquely personal visit. Sitagu Sayadaw is wise and enlightened Buddhist. As Sitagu explains, most Burmese are more interested in religious merit than social merit. This reflects the beliefs of Theravada Buddhism, which traditionally underlines the importance of meditation to acquire ‘merit’. Mahayana Buddhism on the other hand, focuses on serving others as an important part of spiritual practice. “Meditating in a room with the doors shut won’t help the victims suffering from a natural disaster like cyclone Nargis. Hilm can empathize with Sitagu’s philosophy, that of pragmatic action. Sitagu is an honorable and compassionate person and Hilm feels very blessed, to have met him in 2008 and to be able to see a respectful friendship grow over the years. Without the personal efforts of Sitagu, the dozens of hospitals, schools, universities and literary hundreds of water purification plants in the country would never have been built. Without the help of Sitagu, Flying Teachers would not have been able to construct the three schools in the delta.
Sitagu is seen as the father of the country and often called the ‘Dalai Lama of Burma’.
See the video elsewhere on this page and read the recent article about Sitagu from ‘The Irrawaddy”
One of South East Asia’s poorest populations live in Burma. Since 50 years their people were isolated from the world until the elections of 2010 brought a promising change. The new civil government has signaled a sharp break from the highly centralized policies, that caused deadlock and stagnation for decades. 16 months later Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party won the by-elections with a landslide and is expected to reap 40-45 seats in parliament. A modest beginning (as only 7%), but a dream scenario only a few months ago . Since the natural disaster of May 2008 Flying Teachers is active in the delta, completely destroyed during the hurricane Nargis. All foreign aid was initially refused and when it finally was allowed, it was too little, too late. Meanwhile most foreign aid has ‘dried up’ and the only aid now comes from private initiatives and a handful ngo’s, building hospitals, homes and schools. Flying Teachers also tries to help, be it on a small scale. We’re resurrecting schools in the devastated Delta, where 900 schools were destroyed. Only an estimated 15% is rebuilt so far.. We started in 2008 and already have produced THREE schools ! A fourth school is planned now. We hope to dedicate it to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to be constructed on a spot designated by her. Help us to continue our work ! You make it possible by buying the photo book for only €50. We have no overhead costs. The entire €50 go to the project !! Donations are very welcome too.
Young Dutch girl (14 !!) singer-songwriter ‘Miss Ivana’ decides to help the kids in the delta of Burma. She writes the lyrics for a song called ‘Flying Teachers’. Then she finds a composer to put it to music, a studio to record the song, a choreographer to teach her the moves and young talents from an Amsterdam dance school to do the chorus line ! Then she approaches Dutch most famous film director to please produce a video clip. Et voila! The song ‘Flying Teachers’ now is capturing the world through all social and public media. All to raise money for the kids in Burma. Truly amazing. Children from the affluent West with compassion for less privileged children in this world. And all by Ivana’s own initiative. Read more about it, look at the pictures and credits. Visit Ivana’s webiste www.miss-ivana.com