Barthel Schmitz, a master carpenter and SES senior expert, is at PDO for the second time.

Constructing the swing for the Mingun Kindergarden
Constructing the swing for the Mingun Kindergarden

He is teaching ten young novices in the well appointed carpentry and joinery workshop. Furniture, materials and toys need to be built for a nursery school in Mingun. The foundations of the nursery school were laid in November-December 2012 when SES senior expert Christine Kie├čling trained young women from Mingun to care for young children. As the school has no toys or equipment, wooden balance bicycles, rocking horses, jigsaw puzzles and building blocks are being made. A sandbox, a swing and a seesaw are planned for the playground.

And there is more to come. The kitchen garden will have two raised beds for growing salad and vegetables. The kitchen will be fitted out with shelves.

All the novices will travel to Mingun to install the equipment

Thus the young men are learning production planning in the workplace as well as building components and installing them on site. In the process they also learn how to handle tools and machines properly.

The basics of descriptive geometry, theory of design  and technical drawing are taught during the last two weeks of the training and in between times.

Translation : Simone Kunegel

Transport of toys for the Mingun Kindergarden
Transport of toys for the Mingun Kindergarden

The story of the balance bicycle

The test rider

This was my first assignment in Myanmar. I had to renovate an existing carpentry workshop and to teach joinery in Phaung Daw Oo monastic school. I had a class of 12 Students, mostly young novices from the monastery.

By the time the workshop had been tidied up and we were ready to start the training, the material we had ordered had not arrived yet. As some gap-filler activities were needed, I decided to use the leftover pieces of wood to make toys. And this is how the idea of the wooden balance bicycles came to my mind.

I had often seen those beautiful vehicles in Germany. But I was not sure how big they should be. Above all, they had to be the right size for the local children, who are much smaller. So I needed someone to act as a model.

Opposite the workshop there was a small shop that sold all kinds of things to the children in the school. The family had a little boy of about three years old, so I chose him. I sent Dane, the young head caprpenter, to ask the parents to let the little boy come to the workshop.

Shy and filled with misgivings, the little fellow came over, holding DaneÔÇÖs hand. He had seen the big long-nosed foreigner from a distance in the past few days but close up the man looked quite scary. And now they were putting him on the workbench and measuring him up with a ruler! His eyes were growing wider and wider.

I took all the measurements with the utmost care. Total height and shoulder height, leg length and knee length. Arm length and shoulder breadth. The little fellow endured his ordeal, was lifted off the table after I had finished and dashed back to his mother like a flash of lighting.

Following those measurements , I drew the plans of the balance bicycle on a piece of hardboard and cut it out with the fret saw. The little fellow had to come to the carpentry to try it out. Everything seemed to fit.

The parts were made from leftover pieces of wood which were planed down, cut up, fitted together and glued.

The completed bicycle looked really sleek and it worked beautifully. Now all we needed was a pilot for the maiden ride. The easiest way was to call on our little friend again. Reluctantly he sat down on the saddle and did the first trial runs. A little insecure at first, he soon rode more confidently. The onlooking students were thrilled and our young test pilot was mighty proud. Of course all the other children wanted to try the bicycle too and we had a fun-filled afternoon.

Translation: Simone Kunegel