3-minute read

A Friendship No Distance Can Crush


Linus Lin

Linus is the Founder of Global Village for Hope which has impacted the lives of 350 disadvantaged children in Myanmar through its bursary and educational program.

I had first met Joseph in Myanmar in Shwepyitha, Yangon in 2013 when I was looking to sponsor the salary of an English tutor to teach English to children in orphanages. I remember him as humble teacher who cycled to work. He had a good command of conversational English; conducting lessons in simple sentences, emphasising the importance of building one’s vocabulary bank. I then thought it would be great to teach the children conversational English. During my next visit, I came with an English conversational resource guide which I used in class with Korean students in Singapore. This marked our first exchange: from a teacher to another teacher.

Joseph visits Singapore

I saw potential in Joseph, not just as an English teacher, but as a life coach to students. In 2014, I sponsored his first trip to Singapore to broaden his perspectives on educational frameworks. I hoped that it would inspire him to break boundaries and provide new experiences to the education journeys of his students.

Joseph in Corporation Primary School, Singapore 2014

It was his first plane ride out of Yangon. I introduced him to my teacher friends and brought him to visit educational institutions in Singapore. You could pretty much call that a learning journey for two teachers! Through our little adventures around Singapore, I got to know him better, and was (and still am) thoroughly inspired by his dreams and aspirations.  

A friendship turns into a partnership for good

A year later, I was a little saddened when Joseph mentioned that he had to stop teaching English to return to his hometown as the jobs that he took on were not able to provide for his needs. He also shared that he had to drop out of university after his first year due to funding concerns. Then, I thought of a solution.

I suggested that he partner with me to help me continue my philanthropic work in Myanmar. I needed someone to keep it going even without my physical presence. In return, I supported his living costs, gave him an allowance and a scholarship through my educational entity in Singapore.

I hoped that Joseph could graduate from university and continue to be an inspiration to children in Myanmar’s remote regions. I hoped he would be a living example of a man who had fought against poverty to achieve the very best in life. He accepted my suggestion and we brought the scholarship certificate to his village which is now proudly displayed in his mum’s house! That year also marked the birth of Global Village for Hope (GVH).

Joseph graduates from University

Fast forward three years, I had the honour of attending Joseph’s graduation ceremony and to see him don his graduation gown. He graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the West Yangon University. I am most proud of him for achieving so much academically while touching the lives of many others through the work of GVH on top of his family commitments. I am confident he will always be a great role model for his son.

Joseph’s graduation ceremony in University of Yangon in 2018 attended by Linus, and Joseph’s wife and son.

A bridge between Singapore and Myanmar

Our friendship has become a bridge between Singapore and Myanmar, allowing us to impact the community there in unimaginable ways. Joseph is a man grounded in character and the values he embodies has taught me to be a better person. I learnt resilience and tenacity. I learnt to always uphold integrity, honesty and responsibility, and to be a leader who serves. Through him, I had not only developed an understanding of Myanmar’s culture, but learnt to empathise with the people living in rural Myanmar.  

During a trip organised for my students, Joseph said “In the village, it is never about money. It is all about relationships.” This line is eternally etched in my heart. I yearn for this friendship to last for eternity.

Linus and Joseph, together with the team of volunteers from Global Village For Hope (GVH) Foundation in Singapore impact the lives of 350 disadvantaged children in Myanmar through its bursary and educational program. (Photo taken during Bursary Award Ceremony in May 2019)

Our Better World told the story of Linus and Joseph's friendship and the work of Global Village for Hope in 2018.

Do you have a friend like that too? Someone who is from a country, culture and community different from yours? Someone whose life experiences you can’t always relate to? How did that friendship grow into one that serves others? Write a blog about it! Click here to pitch your story.

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