Sr Mary Dillon SSC

Death is stark for the poor

By Sr Mary Dillon SSC

The author is a Columban Sister from Ireland. She has been in the Diocese of Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar (Burma) since 2002. She has developed a home care health program for people with HIV/AIDS and established a respite house, Home of Hope, to enable people from distant places to avail of medical care. Here she reflects on her experience of burials in Myanmar.

I was shocked when I read about the costs of funerals in Ireland. An exorbitant sum was quoted, several thousand euro (€1.00 = PHP58.00), even for a simple, ‘no frills’ burial. Many people it seems spend a long time paying off the debt. Others talked of the cost of a grave, the advantages of cremation, the necessity of a wake or a meal after the burial, and so on. It was all very sobering.

What a contrast to my experience of burials in Myitkyina, Myanmar! For the past nine years here in Myanmar I have been working with the very poor.

In the last year we buried approximately 48 patients from the 30-bed Home of Hope where I am. Most of these, men and women, died of AIDS. The majority had no one to mourn them, no family to grieve at their going.