A Dear Friend by Albert Normandin

A Dear Friend

About 8 years ago, on one of my trips to Myanmar, I dropped into the Compassion and Peace Nunnery in Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake region.

On this first visit to this Nunnery, I witnessed young Nuns praying and studying the Buddhist teachings. I met with the headmaster Nun and through my guide, had a short conversation.

Every trip to Myanmar since then, I have been coming to this Nunnery, observing and photographing their daily life. And every visit grew into hours of conversation with the head master, Nan Shwe Sin. As we got to know each other, we discussed our cultural differences, Buddhism and beliefs, freethinking, our countries, the world, daily life, happiness, crazy and just about anything else. As we grew more comfortable with each other, the conversations became much more interesting and humorous. All these conversations were done through my guide translating for us.

Each trip turned into days of visits to the Nunnery and much longer conversations. The visits quickly became less about photography and much more about spending time with a great friend and the young Nuns.

I was honoured to be accepted by the Nuns and allowed into their daily life, I was invited to festivals and different events with the Nuns. To the point that they were waiting and expecting me to show up for the next season. Nan Shwe Sin was always waiting for me and full of conversation.

Our conversations taught me so much more about peace and happiness than I could ever found on my own.

She would always tell me I needed to meditate and I always agreed and promised I would. We would always promise to learn each others language so we could communicate. We set her up with an email address and she promised to learn how to use email and send me messages in english.

A few days ago, the Nuns were on a trip to southern Myanmar and were involved in a bad car accident. The head master, Nan Shwe Sin, my friend, did not survive. Several other young Nuns were injured and are recovering.

Nan Shwe Sin, my Dear Friend, I will miss spending time with you, laughing and talking for hours and hours. I will miss our broken promises, hopes and dreams….

Albert Normandin

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