The Myanmar Youth Development Institute is a local social enterprise that raises funds to develop projects that aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged Myanmar youth.

Last November, 20 under-resourced students from different parts of the country had graduated a 12-month hospitality training programme at Sanon restaurant in Nyaung-U, Mandalay.

The programme trained the students in various hospitality jobs, including front-of-the-house and kitchen production.

Among the graduates, hailing from Shan state is Mi, who used to juggle farming and cooking for the family while caring for her younger brother, occasionally helping out with his homework whenever she can.

Despite her parents’ initial reluctance for Mi to relocate to Nyaung-U for 12 months, she insisted to join Sanon because of her love for cooking and dreams to compete on Masterchef one day.

She says in her thank-you speech at the ceremony: “Sanon changed my life and I am very grateful to learn English speaking skills since I came here with zero English. Thank you so much, Sanon.”

Student of the year award went to Lin, who is currently employed at Bagan Htate Htar Hotel in New Bagan. Together with three other students, Lin completed a two-month internship at the Novotel Max in Yangon – where he spent the first month at the buffet line.

“I learnt how to greet the customers and talk with them,” says he. Lin hopes to become an efficient restaurant manager, and realises that “he needs to learn more about F&B knowledge and gain more experience”.

Seated among the audience with pride, Than’s parents had travelled over 40 hours from Keng Tung near the Myanmar-Thai border to Nyaung-U to witness their son’s graduation. During the last 12 months Than and his parents communicated occasionally by phone and now they finally reunited with their son.

“I am very proud that my son has graduated – we want him to have a better future in a big city like in Bagan, and not come back because there is no work at home,” says Than’s father.

Consistently rated amongst the top restaurants in Bagan, Sanon offers a contemporary Burmese fusion cuisine while changing lives, building a future for Myanmar youth.

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