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1.  The Scheme.

(Adapted from the Souvenir Issue of the Golden Jubilee (1887-1937) of Brother James, Visitor, Far East)

In 1917, the Director of St Paul’s Institution at Rangoon, issued a general statement to the public in which, after alluding to the excellent work being carried on by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, especially for the orphans and the poor boys of the Community, pointed out that, though the education imparted was excellent, it was chiefly of a literary nature. It fitted boys, said he, for such posts as clerkships in mercantile offices, for government situations and subordinate positions on the Railway and similar establishments. Apart from that, he felt that the average Anglo-Indian boy was lacking in thrift and in the capacity to use his hands in his own home. He (the Director) had evolved a scheme which he thought would be an improvement on the present system. To carry out this scheme he had purchased 1600 acres of land in the Twante Township. Of these 1200 acres would be used for rubber planting, 200 for gardening and the remainder for buildings and  playgrounds connected with an Institute intended for Anglo-Indian orphans, poor children and boarders. The course of studies in this Institute would be up to Standard VII. At the same time all the boys would be taught gardening and the art of looking after a rubber-estate and would also be given useful elementary knowledge of a trade or profession.

After passing the Standard VII examination, intelligent boys would be sent to St. Paul’s Institution at Rangoon to study for the High School Final Examination and then to College and, in some cases, even to Europe to learn a profession. Those boys who could not pass the Standard VII Examination would be perfected in their trade. He thought that a great number of these would eventually become Assistants and Overseers on Rubber Estates. The Hon’ble Mr. Thompson, the Financial Commissioner, together with the Revenue Secretary and the Secretary to Government, whom the Director had met, in order to consult them about the scheme, had assured him that in the near future there would be a great demand for Assistants on rubber estates, as it seemed to be the policy of Government to encourage the planting of rubber. He (the Director) had the full support of the local Government which had promised loans and grants, but as these would cover only a portion of the initial expenses, which would amount to three lakhs, he hoped that the public would assist him in every way.


In connection with this statement, the Director had consulted not only the Hon’ble Mr. Thompson who had expressed the opinion that the scheme would afford an excellent training for Anglo-Indian boys, and the other gentlemen mentioned above who had expressed the same opinion, but he had also spoken about it to Mr. Covernton, then Director of Public Instruc­tion, and Mr. Sharpe, who had come across from India in connection with educational matters. Both these gentlemen were quite taken up with the scheme and drew the attention of the Local Government to it. The Local Government, through the Education Department, then wrote to the Director asking him for the details of his scheme, with the results already mentioned.

//.     Launching the Scheme.

The time had at length come to launch the scheme and this the Director at once proceeded to do in 1916, so that on the 31st of August 1919 he was able to issue a Report showing that up to that date 295 acres of land had been planted with rubber, and that the trees were growing well. The ‘Deputy-Director of Agriculture had reported favourably on the quality of the soil and had said that the estate was an ideal one for rubber-planting and also for gardening.


During the three years for which the Report was issued, Mr. W. F. Graham, I.C.S., Commissioner of Hanthawaddy, Mr. S. W. Cocks, Deputy-Director of Public Instruction, Mr. F. D. Flint, an engineer, and Mr. A. Kerral, Deputy-Director of Agriculture, had paid visits to the estate and had expressed themselves quite satisfied with what they had seen.

The Rev. Father Bonnet, of Nyaunggon, had in the meanwhile taken over for the time being the general management of the estate, while Mr. John D’Silva, who had but recently completed his studies at St. Paul’s, supervised the estate very conscientiously and satisfactorily. The Rev. Brother Mark, of St. Paul’s, acted as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. The Director, who was also the Director of St. Paul’s Institution, was able to visit the estate about once a month.

On the 31st August 1920, the Director issued his second Report, in which, after thanking the public for the help they had given him, pointed out that an additional 125 acres had been cleared and planted during the previous year, so that 420 acres in all were under cultivation. A bungalow, sufficiently large in which to start the School, had been erected, as well as two large cow-sheds and a godown. A dam had also been constructed across the stream that flows through the estate, but that had been swept away during a storm of exceptional violence. Another bungalow, intended to serve as an office and for the accommodation of the Brothers, as well as out-houses, were under construction.

During the year Mr. B. W. Perkins, Deputy-Commissioner of the Hanthawaddy District; Colonel Thane, O.B.E., Manager of the Para Rubber Estate; Mr. F. D. Flint, Executive Engineer; Captain Poulet, the famous French aviator; Mr. Benoit and Mr. R. C. Beale, Government Botanist, visited the estate and seemed quite pleased with what they saw. The good progress that had been made was very largely due to the Rev. Father Bonnet. His keen financial sense ensured the right expenditure of money on the work being carried out. Under the careful and clever supervision of Mr. John D’Silva, excellent work was done by the coolies employed on the estate. Great kindness had been shown by Colonel Thane, Manager of the Para Rubber Estate, and Mr. W. Toynton-Reis, Manager of the Sookalat Rubber Estate, in pointing out to Mr. John D’Silva, the best methods of carrying on the work connected with rubber, and in affording him help in many other ways.

///.     The Opening of the Institute.

The work carried on between 1916 and 1920 was, in its very nature, pioneering.    By the beginning of 1921 it was felt that the time had come to open the Institute. So on the 2nd February 1921, Rev. Brother Director accompanied by Rev. Brother Julian and followed soon after by Rev. Brother Barnabe, with thirty-eight boys, left St. Paul’s Institution. Rangoon, for their new home on the Estate. School work and field work were soon com­menced and carried on throughout the year. The first three months were fairly easy ones, although they did not pass, without anxiety being felt by the Director, for he had to find food and clothing for the boys, and the buildings had not been altogether completed. With the South-West Monsoon the difficulties increased. Huts were blown down. In the meantime staff and boys of the Institute had to find shelter for themselves in nooks and corners. But when this happened, all set to work to put them up again, and thus early, began to learn the art of helping themselves. In spite of all this there was not much sickness, a fact that may be accounted for by the strenuous and healthy open-air life led by the boys, and the care taken of them.

On the 1st of July, Mr. A. Mariot, an experienced engineer, joined the staff and soon after made a start with mechanical engineering, a certain number of the senior boys being made apprentices. This work was at the commencement, necessarily on a small scale, being confined to instruction in the use of tools, in filing, chipping, etc.

The School Department had, in the meantime, been augmented by the arrival of Mr. John Chrysostom, who joined as Master on the 12th of June.

 At the beginning there was no resident Priest, but the Rev. Father Bonnet or his Assistant Priest visited the Institute as often as possible to hear Confessions and say Mass in a temporary Chapel. When they could not come from Nyaunggon, the Staff and boys went there to hear Mass. Rev. Father Lucius was appointed Chaplain later in the year. Mr. Sandy a Master of the School died on the 29th October, 1921. R.I.P. Nothing of importance occured during the rest of the year. Work was steadily carried on in the School, and in the Workshop. More boys began to arrive, so that at the end of the year there were fifty on the roll. Mr. F. Shallard joined the Staff in January 1922.

In April 1923, Rev. Brother James, Visitor of the Christian Brothers’ Schools in the Far East, visited the Institute, where he spent three days. In reply to an address of welcome read by the Senior Appren­tice, W.Smith, Brother James said that what he had seen at the Institute had come as a great surprise to him. The fine buildings that had been—or were being—erected, the large estate and the work being done on it, the healthy atmosphere of the surroundings, the wonderful entertainment that had just taken place, and above all, the happy faces of the boys, had filled him with great hope for the future which, under their Brother Director, would, he felt sure, be a very bright and successful one. Before leaving Rev. Brother James treated the boys to a picnic in the forest.

A few days later the Right Rev. F. Perroy, Bishop of Medea, and Co-Adjutor Bishop of Rangoon, visited the Institute, accompanied by R. R. Fathers Le Salle and Roy. His Lordship was met on his arrival by the boys to whom he gave his blessing. Later, in the evening, an address of welcome was read by W.Smith and a concert held in His Lordship’s honour, at the conclusion of which the Bishop characterised the Institute and everything in it as "wonderful". He had been impressed by the happy faces of the boys of that wonderful family. He had seen them at work and had been surprised at how much had been accomplished in a year. Wonders had been done in a very short time. He would carry away very pleasant memories of them. On the following day His Lordship administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a number of boys. His Lordship presented the senior boys with a cricket set and the Juniors with a fine compendium of indoor games.

In the Inspector’s report for 1936—1937 we read:

"This School is probably unique in Burma and I was favourably im­pressed. It is an orphanage for orphan and destitute boys and aims at giving them a practical training for life and to become useful citizens. The training and activities outside the class-room are therefore probably more important than the small amount of book learning that the pupils receive inside the class-rooms. The boys do practically all their own work under supervision including baking their own bread and washing their own dishes. They receive a useful training in wood-work, metal-work, gardening, and the care of livestock. Habits of industry, self-activity, and discipline are in­stilled into them early and survive late.

A system of apprenticeship in more advanced manual work, in rice milling, and rubber planting is a feature of the Institution and both boys and apprentices are kept hard at it all day by the staff of Brothers who do not spare themselves in the process. Theirs is a noble and heroic task. The School is therefore full of life and activity. I saw an invigorating boxing display and an impromptu concert in which the boys showed both versatility and originality. The gymnastic and physical training display was good, the singing tuneful, and the boys even managed to raise a band."

No. of baptisms in the School Chapel up to date    …      294
Vocations to our Institute                                        6

Seminarists                                                                                      4







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Brother “Papa” John FSC founded De La Sale Institute Twante in 1921.  He was a man of great vision and foresight.  He was big in stature; he had big ideas and he had a big and loving heart.  His general desire was to do as much good as he could for the benefit of mankind.  De La Salle Institute was the overflow of his fatherly, Christ-centred soul.  It was the interpretation of his love for God and his love for his neighbour in the poor children.  It was the first institution of its kind in Burma and as such Brother John has won a niche in the Remembrance Hall of Fame.

Brother John’s scheme included a rubber plantation of some 1800 acres, the returns of which would more than suffice to support a large school population, and the surplus to be used in technical, professional and literary education of promising lads in suitable Institutions in Burma and overseas.  The boys were to work on the estate, at the carpenter’s bench, do gardening, raise poultry, attend to farm work and they were to be employed in the school workshop.  The boys were also to receive a sound school education and it was Brother John’s intention to make them strong, healthy and clean-minded men of the future.  In short, the school provided for the intellectual and technical training and in this way filled a gap in the Burma Educational system of those days.  From the very start Brother John inculcated in the pupils, subordination and obedience to authority, love of manual labour and a spirit of study.  He succeeded in creating an “esprit de famille” among the boys and this has been the characteristic of the Institute.  He always stressed the fact that De La Salle Institute was a ‘HOME’ and a ‘home’ it is, for the bigger boys were to be elder brothers of the younger ones.  They were to distribute food, fruits and material supplies to them.  Joys and sorrows, successes and failures were to be shared by all, and they were to look upon the teachers as their parents. 

The School started with 38 boys in 1921 on February 1st at Hnget-aw-san, the Valley of Singing Birds, with Brothers John and Julian assisted by Mr. Sandy and Mr. Chrysostom (Saya Myo), pioneers in this field of education.  In the picturesque setting a school was built, around which are the rubber estate, fruit and vegetable gardens, playing fields and swimming pool. The early pioneering days were hazardous and difficult.  With the onset of the southwest monsoon huts were blown down and the staff and boys had to find shelter for themselves in nooks and corners.  This was the early formation for the boys to learn to help themselves and each other.

In 1964,along with all religious and private schools De La Salle Institute, Twante together with the 1800 acres rubber estate, was nationalized and eventually closed down; heaven only knows where the 300 orphans went and how they survived. The only mission property dispensed was St Theresa’s Church and the Clergy House. Initially, School Teacher Lionel Tellis and 9 boys lived in the sacristy of the Church and near it they built a hut as kitchen and dining room.  Fr Eugene Mahn Saw La was their Chaplin.  To quote him, "In the beginning we were living very happily in our poverty, so poor and so laughable shifting from corner to corner." A few years later an earthquake left only St Theresa’s Church and the playshed built by the boys, standing.  When an old boy, now living in London revisited, he burst out with uncontrollable tears. 

Later when Saya Tellis left, Sayama Daw Nge who is the granddaughter of U Bawlathaw, the bullock-cart driver of Papa John, took over.  Then, like before there were only boys.  Later she admitted an orphan girl and found her very useful and helpful.  Now there are 54 children, 35 boys and 19 girls: from kindergarten to college; 4 are attending vocational training.

The younger ones attend the neighbouring State Secondary School. After-hours the children plant, harvest and mill their our paddy, cultivate cash earning crops, maintain a lush fruit and vegetable garden and conduct fish and prawn farming which gives the best rate of return. Fr Eugene is forever asking, knocking on doors and seeking all avenues to help perpetuate the Vision and Mission of Brother John.  In practice Fr Eugene’s maxims are, "Strive for the fishing gear rather than just the fish".  And, "God helps those who help themselves."     

Four staff members now assist Sayama Daw Nge: two attend to their studies, discipline, health and religious upbringing and 2 cater for their domestic needs.  The latest appointment is Saya Michael Myo, the grandson of Saya Myo, the pioneering staff member of Brother John.  They are sheltered at different locations and in improvised bamboo and thatch quarters.  Fr Eugene states, “The children really live as a family both boys and girls studying and sleeping in the same hall since we do not have a separate place for the girls as yet.  Even the hut that they live in has to be shifting every year.  One thing very easy and consoling for me is that they never complain and grumble because the roof is leaking, the floor slanting or the lack of mosquito nets.”


Except for donations of kind benefactors the Home does not receive any regular financial support, as it is not a mainstream establishment of the Catholic Church since its impromptu inception began when De La Salle Institute was nationalised and closed down by the Government. The self-help and “esprit de famille” pioneered by Papa John are still being nurtured, albeit on a small scale.   For the present, the cultivation of paddy, betel leaf, vegetables and the breeding of fish and prawn are the main survival and income generating activities.


Yangon Diocese:     (1) www.yangondiomm.org 

(2)http://www.catholic- hierarchy.org/diocese/dyang.html

DLS Australia:                      www.lasalle.org.au/

DLS Worldwide:                   http://www.lasalle2.org/

St. Theresa:                         http://www.littleflower.org/

Bro. Austin (Bro Director):  http://archives.catholic.org.hk/memory/A-Lemos.htm


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  In July 2005 our first Newsletter received a response together with a very generous donation from a benefactor, who wrote, “I found the Newsletter quite touching and the photos are a real eye opener on how life is for the orphans”.  The funds received  purchased an existing furnished property available on the market, which will be a tonic to enhance the living conditions of some of the children as portrayed in the accompanying photos.


  The house is located on land 60ft x 100ft, complete with electricity, tube well, cupboards, tables, kitchen utensils, indoor toilet, spacious grounds front and back.

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At present St Theresa’s home has 54 children: 35 boys and 19 girls sheltered at 3 different locations and in improvised bamboo and thatch quarters.  In August 2005 with a generous disbursement received from the estate of a deceased alumnus the construction work of a two storey 40ft x 20ft structure, generally in accordance with the attached Plans and Work Schedule, was commenced.  It is hoped that the building will be  ready as a special Christmas present for the children for the year 2005.  The accompanying photos record the continuing progress of the work.  Considering the impromptu nature of the inception of the Home, this will be the first dedicated structure professionally designed for its intended purpose.  Provision and allowances have also been made for future extensions.

See also photo album for ongoing work progress.







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Memories of Papa John and DLS


Memories of Papa John and DLS

(In our Occasional Newsletter No: 2, it was mentioned that in March 1942, Bro John and the European Brothers were ordered to travel to Rangoon for interrogation and verification by the Japanese Chief of Staff.  The writer, then only eight years old, and her parents were also required to accompany the Brothers under the same order.  Her father was the Manager of Sookalat Rubber Estate. This is Mrs Heather Joyce’s narrative of her encounter of an unforgettable kind with Papa John.)

   In November 2004 I returned to Burma with my husband for the first time since leaving for the U.K. in 1948. My husband, Ken, had been on the navy gunboats that occupied Rangoon and the Delta area in 1945. We were able to meet Bros Anselm and Fr Eugene and were pleased to know of the work being carried out in Hnget-au-san. Ken had visited DLS after the war ended and met many of the Brothers, he has fond memories of going out shooting with Bro. Celestyne. His visit in Naval uniform stirred some interest among the boys in a possible naval career. Later in 1945 he was in St Pauls in Rangoon along with Johnny Myo.

   My earliest memories of Sookalat and DLS are back when on school holidays from St Joseph’s Convent in Moulmein in 1938/39. My parents used to drive to DLS quite often to play bridge with the Brothers. Br.John used to be one of the Brothers accompanying a group of boys who had been invited to come to our house to swim in the Lake and have a picnic lunch.

   Stronger memories centre on my parents and I, along with the Brothers, being taken by the Japanese to Twante where we were to spend the night before going on to Rangoon for interrogation. We were all in the Court House in Twante when, thanks to the Rev. Ohn Khin, his parishioners brought us rice and a piece of fish served on a banana leaf. There were no utensils and the European Brothers had difficulty eating with their fingers so they all lined up to allow me, then aged eight, to feed them.

   In the morning we were all marched down to the ferry and put on a large sampan to go down the Canal to Rangoon. At this time both my Mother and Papa John were quite ill. In Rangoon the Brothers were taken to Rangoon Jail whilst my parents were taken to a house near the Kokhine Lakes.

   We were all returned to Hnget-au-san and Sookalat under house arrest, the Japanese Kempeti were housed in the Senior Boys Bunk House near the Chapel. A short time later we received a message that Papa John had died although at the time I didn’t understand and I came across him laid out on the oval table in the Parlour. I tried to wake him and ran out for help when Bro Celestyn explained to me what had happened. His funeral was very sad for me, the boys were all in tears whilst they carried the coffin to the graveside.

   There was very close contact between my parents and DLS. During the War my Father had drained our Lake allowing us to have an abundance of dried fish for our villagers and also DLS. When at the school I joined in the boys’ sports and I was taken aside for lessons from Bro.Urban.  I think I can claim to be the only ‘Old Girl’ of De La Salle, Twante.

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News Update 1 ~ July 2005


at St Theresa’s Home, Hnget-au-san (Twante), MYANMAR (BURMA)



Introduction:  Parish Priest of Hnget-au-san and alumnus of the now defunct De La Salle Institute, Fr Eugene Mahn Saw La (ordained ’75) has been reviving the Spirit and Vision of Papa John, unheralded for many years. Today St Theresa’s Home has 54 children: 35 boys and 19 girls – kindergarten to college students; 4 are attending vocational training.  Except for donations of kind benefactors, the Home does not receive any regular financial aid, as it is not a Diocesan establishment.   In accordance with Papa John’s spirit of self-reliance the children grow, harvest and mill their own rice, the staple food. Other survival and income generating activities are the cultivation of cash crops, fruits and vegetables and fish and prawn farming.  With the publication of the first Occasional Newsletter in May 2005, like-minded Alumni, Friends and Sponsors have rallied to the support of Fr Eugene.


(As reported by U Than Myint, Class of ’57, Treasurer, De La Salle Boys Association)

      We went to DLS on the 6th May 2005. We (7) old boys arrived at John Ywa at 10 AM. Fr Eugene was in Nyaung-gone. As soon as arrived I collected all the boys and girls for distribution of K-1500 each in envelopes to 46 children on behalf of the anonymous donor.  Kyats 10,000 to Headmistress Daw Rosa (grand daughter of U Bawlathaw, Papa John’s bullock-cart driver) who was in Children’s Hospital looking after Saw Thi Hwe since 2 May 2005. We met Sayadaw Dammathami (formerly Richard Halford) of Zay Ya Thu Kha Monastery on the way to KAWHMU.

        In DLS all the students are not in Hnget-aw-san. Some are in Fish Pond at We-gyi about four miles away, some in Nyaung-gone, some in DLS. Now is Easter Holiday. They cannot enjoy the holiday like our days shooting, fishing etc. They have to work in Fish Pond; some are in Nyaung-gone doing all kinds of work with Fr Eugene. Some in DLS have to look after the Church (St Theresa’s), which needs a loving care. The Church is so beautiful and you will be surprised when you see the photo.

         The boarding house made of bamboo is now in bad shape, the floors are broken but the roof is all right. Fr. said he would give the old clergy house at DLS to old boys as bunkhouse. It needs some renovation. The building is over 60 yrs old.

          Mg Tsunami 3 months old, Fr Eugene adopted when he was 2 days old.  Mother died while giving birth in Feb. She fell down when the Tsunami hit their village on 26 December 2004. 

          We had our monthly gathering on 29 May 2005. About 16 old boys came including Bro. Jerome.  Eugene Delmas opened the meeting with PRAYERS.  He read out our journey to John Ywa and the activities we did in John Ywa & Nyaung-gone.                     


  1. Two Good Staff:  “Everything is much needed.  But the most needed now is two good staff, good educated and well paid and interested in the work. We have 54 children, 35 boys and 19 girls; kindergarten to college students and 4 taking vocational training.”  (10 May 2005)
  2. Fish Farming:  “Another thing very strong in mind is an income generating project.  We already have good fishponds; 12 acres main pond, two nursery ponds 3 acres and 2 acres.  We are floating it for 3 years already because we have no seed money yet.  We need about 50 lakhs* to start the work.”  (22 May 2005)
  3. Boarding House for Boys:  “We are building a boarding house for boys: 30ft x 30ft.  How wonderful if you could help us finish the house.  We are halfway

already.  Down part is workshop and top part is sleeping room and study room.  We need many more buildings. We just have a clergy house and a beautiful Church. The children live in fowl yard. Now we are building for them a good decent house, which is still not finish yet and for which I ask some help from you to finish. I need about 15 lakhs to finish. The ground floor is workshop: mechanic, carpentry and electrical.”

  1. We have no proper House for the Girls.  “At present they live in one house whose owner is away in Yangon. She wants to sell the house and ground 60 X 100 feet. I enclose some photos. She asks for 45 lakhs. They have everything: lights, tube well, cupboards, tables, kitchen utensils, toilet, spacey ground in the front and back. Brother James and two of his Brothers came and put up two nights and they love the house very much. It would be very nice for 4 of the girls.” (2 & 8 June 2005)
  2. A Room in Rangoon for College Students: “We need another very urgent thing.  This year we have 5 girls taking college tuition.  Last year we had 2 and they had to go in the morning and come back in the evening; so tiring and costly for traveling expenses and food.” (2 June 2005)

       * 1 lakh = 100,000 



v     Re: Item 1 above:  Fr Eugene now has two new staff to help the children in discipline and education and also health, on a salary of Kyats 20 thousand a month each. One of them is Saya Michael Myo, son of Saya Johnny Myo.

v     Adequate funds are now available for Item 3: Boarding House for Boys.  A most generous sponsor provided 50% of the required amount.  See attached, final stages photograph.  The boys are set to move in soon.

v     Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous sponsor, Item 4: House for the Girls is in legal transaction stage.  The girls have already moved in. 



                         1                        1               June 2005:  AUD  500

     2       July 2005:  AUD 2500


To all our generous De La Salle Twante Boys and Sponsors our grateful thanks.


Fred Salgado

E-mail: fsalgado@optusnet.com.au


Copy to:  Fr Eugene Mahn Saw La

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