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I’ve just finished interviewing Wendy here at the Muir School for the Deaf in Kale, Myanmar, when a little truck starts up. It’s driven out from its hiding place behind the food hall and suddenly everything stops – the conversations, the games, the face painting – everything, and the kids all run and dive in the back.

This small van, on its way into town, is licensed to carry three. But vehicular licensing doesn’t quite have the same oomph here in Kale as it might in the West and certainly it carries few impediments to joy in the playground. There is simply nothing better than climbing in the back of the van, and so they do. Twenty of them. Squeezed in, pressed together, they hang out the sides and off the back. And as the truck inches around the playground there are squeals of laughter and giggles.

Driving the truck is Monday.

Monday (that’s his real name – it’s mercifully easy to remember) is deaf and is the school’s driver. He is also the school’s resident swineherd and repairman. He serves as game master after school, too. 

Driving the truck is Monday.

All aboard!

Monday (that’s his real name – it’s mercifully easy to remember) is deaf and is the school’s driver. He is also the school’s resident swineherd and repairman. He serves as game master after school, too.

Oh, and he’s also their head teacher.

Monday works harder, longer and more joyfully in a larger number of roles than anyone else I have ever met. His working day starts at 7:00am when he leads devotions at the school. (Oh, did I mention that he serves as the school chaplain, too?) He teaches the kids all day, plays with them in the afternoon when he’s not doing other errands for the school, and watches over them until 10:00pm when he goes home for the night. On Sundays he also drives over dusty potholed roads, across rivers and through fly-infested dumps to DMI’s new church for the deaf in a village an hour away where he preaches. The man never stops.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

A youthful, dynamic graduate from the Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in Yangon, he is a brilliant signer. Neville is also an excellent signer. The problem is, while he is excellent at signing in Burmese, he is also very good at signing in Korean and Japanese, in American and Australian, in Swahili and many other languages, to the point where it can all get a bit muddled into a singular language which we affectionately call “Nevillish”.

Everyone loves Nevillish, they just can’t always understand it. That’s where Monday comes in. When Neville is ‘speaking’ and the kids start to get that confused look (I get that look all the time), Monday steps in and translates Nevillish into pure Burmese, and then the kids’ faces all light up and they nod and smile. Monday is not only brilliant at signing at an advanced level, but at signing clearly for those who are still learning to sign. He is an invaluable, irreplaceable pillar of the school in Kale, educating the minds of the kids and bringing the gospel to their hearts.

The fruit of his work is easy to see.

Monday is deaf. His wife Dingding and their kids are all hearing.

Monday was raised in a Christian community but didn’t come to know Jesus for himself until adulthood. After searching the Scriptures and seeking God, he decided to follow Christ and was baptised in 2015. He’s never looked back.

Monday’s wife (an unfortunate term out of context) is Dingding and they have two beautiful kids. She and the kids are all hearing. Dingding works tirelessly at the school cooking in the kitchen when she’s not taking care of her kids or applying traditional Thanaka cream to visiting missionaries to keep their patty white faces from burning in the sun.
I’m so in awe of Monday. It’s hard to comprehend just how much he does here and how lovingly he does it. I ask him what the best thing is about working at the school. He says it’s the joy of seeing deaf kids develop – physically, academically, spiritually – and become everything they were created to be.

The most challenging thing? This is the only time in my whole stay in Kale that I saw his face fall. He looked down, reluctant, embarrassed. “The salary,” he said. I had already been informed about this so he didn’t need to give me the details. Monday earns US$80 a month. Teachers at the local public schools earn US$250+ a month. This explains why it’s hard to attract teachers to our school in the first place let alone keep them. It also explains why we are two teachers short, and why Monday must carry such a heavy burden. It stretches resources to say the least. Some evenings at 10:00pm they just have to count the kids, lock the doors and pray that everyone survives the night. For Monday, the work is a joy but it’s hard to raise a family on a salary that is one third that of regular public school teachers. For DMI, the work is fruitful but it’s hard to run a school when there isn’t enough budget to properly pay the teachers.

Despite the financial situation, Monday feels blessed. His heart is with the school and with the kids, and it shows. He remains genuinely grateful for the blessings they have at the school and in the deaf community thanks to DMI’s generous sponsors. Even so, we hope to raise more to properly compensate Monday and the other staff for their wonderful work.

I ask Neville to ask Monday where he feels any extra funding should go. Monday bursts out laughing. Apparently Neville has slipped into Swahili and asked him where the toilet should go.

If you would like to know how you can support Monday, any of the kids or teachers, or help meet any of DMI’s needs, please click on the support button below, or mail to