They all call her the "Mother Teresa of Burma": Sister Marta Mya Thwe, a religious of the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Apparition (SJA), is tirelessly committed to taking care of people with AIDS or HIV, who lack proper care, are marginalized by society and thrown out by families, and of whom the Burmese health institutions do not even take into consideration.
Speaking to Fides, Sister Marta talks about her commitment: "Many people
are afraid to touch people who have contracted AIDS. I have noticed
that many sick people are thrown out of their homes as a result of this
disease. There were many terminally-ill people lying on the roadside or
even already dead. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in
the number of people dying from the disease, in the total abandonment
of the government and institutions".
In 2001, driven by the impulse to do something, she even asked a
Buddhist nun for help and thanks to some benefactors and students she
founded the "Mirror of Charity" Health Center, which provides shelter,
food, medicine and educational resources for orphans and people with
The first center was born in Kyeikkami, a small rural town in the
state of Mon, and started to welcome and take care of AIDS patients from
the states of Kachin, Shan and Karen, with a team of two nuns and 10
A work marked by compassion. "I saw so many die almost every day. We
accompanied so many in their last moments of life", she recalls.
After many efforts the nun managed to get the drugs and started the
treatment for 20 patients; Then, thanks to other benefactors including
foreigners, she managed to administer therapy to about 103 children and
The center, which started in a simple wooden house in 2002, has
now expanded to a complex of several buildings, funded by the Embassies
of Australia, Japan and Germany. The complex includes a small plot of
agricultural land and livestock, a facility for professional training
courses, with the perspective of a "holistic approach", to accompany the
sick in their lives.
Today it is also equipped with a small clinic to
provide general health care and where one can do tests for diseases such
as malaria or hepatitis.
In 2014, a new health center was born in Kawthaungnel, in southern
Myanmar, the area where AIDS is widespread. Other care and support
centers are located in the cities of Kyaikkami and Thanbyuzayat and
assist approximately 104 patients, including 24 children under 15 years
"We are trying to address the problem of sick children with an integral
assisance for their growth, which provides care but also the educational
path", said Sister Marta to Fides, noting that often parents and family
members are not willing to accept the return of children in their