Why Burma

It so happens, that Asia’s poorest live in Burma. Charlie Hilm (Amsterdam 1943), founder of the ‘FLYING TEACHERS’ visited the country frequently over the past 20 years on his business travels throughout Asia and found its people vulnerable and totally lost in isolation. The Burmese live so isolated, since the Western world is convinced to be able to change the harsh military regime through sanctions. But the poorest are only more severely hit by these boycotts. Perhaps it’s time to start a dialogue with countries like Burma without preconditions. After all, political isolation and trade sanctions internationally scored little success in the past.

The Flying Teachers

Hilm’s engagement focuses solely on the human interest and stays clear from any politics. His tale is that of Burma’s common people. This so vulnerable population motivated him to get involved and try and do something constructive to improve their fate. After his retirement in 2003 he founded the n.g.o. FLYING TEACHERS. Its mission: knowledge transfer to Burma’s deprived kids. Burma is populated by extraordinary, colorful communities and ethnic tribes and is rich in its cultural heritage.
A country of 60 million.
After the British colonial period and Japanese domination, Burma knew a short-lived democratic period, which was ended by a military coup. Since the seventies Burma has been continuously ruled by a stern military regime which clamps down on any upsurge or protest.

Children of the Buddha

the eternal cycle of life

In spite of their enduring poverty, the hardship of domination and disasters, the Burmese live their lives, devote and obedient. They rely on the Buddhist teachings of ‘Samsara’. (going in circles) The cycle of death and reincarnation, the very essence of Buddhism en Hinduism. Without beginning nor end, only determined by ‘Karma’ and mostly full of suffering. This ‘Samsara’ is the world, as it’s lived by the common people, the reality of day-to-day life. After having retired from an active business life, traveling up to nine months a year, Charlie Hilm took up his first profession again, photography. In a touching and beautiful book and with photo exhibits, Hilm wants to share, what he observed and photographed. With the proceeds he generates the funds, which enable the ngo to reach its goals.
Inspired by the teachings of ‘Samsara’ the book’s title is:
“Children of the Buddha –the eternal cycle of life”.


‘THE FLYING TEACHERS’ works closely with the ‘SITAGU International Buddhist Missionary Association’ in Yangon and Sagaing, which acts as an umbrella organization for hundreds of Burmese monasteries and more than 25,000 monks. Senior monk, Sayadaw (abbot) Sitagu is an enlightened person, yet very pragmatic. The morning after the flood disaster he efficiently used his organization to give immediate aid to the survivors. It also were the monks, who managed to resourcefully coordinate the foreign aid, initially refused by the government. The activities of Sitagu are officially tolerated, its status is respected. Sitagu has millions of devotees and followers and is seen as the ‘Dalai Lama’ of Burma. That is why the organization is an excellent channel, to help realize our plans. Meanwhile more foreign NGO’s found its way to this monk. Where many felt frustrated by a bureaucratic government, these NGO’s entrust their donations and plans to Sitagu.

Read the article about Sitagu published in the year of the disaster in the Wall Street Journal and Intl. Herald Tribune.  See Sitagu´s involvement with our schools in both documentaries.