Maung Shwe Lay Library Project

The Village

Maung Shwe Lay is a small fishing community of 2,500 inhabitants south of Ngapali Beach. The main sources of income for the community is fishing as well as farming. They are self-sufficient and happy, however due to the distance from main markets they need to use middle men and thus sell at quite low prices their fishing, as a result they do not have any disposable income. The village lacks education facilities, there is one primary school in the village with 6 teachers and, the neighbouring village (30 minutes by bike, 1 hour on foot) has a secondary school. In 2010/2011 school year, there were 200 kids attending the primary school and 250 children going to the Secondary School. Students wanting to pursue their education above 10th grade, have to leave for Thandwe or Yangon, but most of them cannot afford to do so.

The Library Project

The village had started the project of a library so every villager and in particular kids can have access to class books to pursue their education, as well as other types of literature to open their minds and feed their endless curiosity. The village committee managed to get funds and donations to build a library but then lacked further funds to buy books and pay staff to take care of the library.

The EXO Foundation, upon EXO Travel Myanmar advice, decided to support this project and funded the purchase of 800 books, tables, chairs and bookshelves, as well as the training of two villagers who followed the British Council Library Training in Yangon.

The library located on the main path through the middle of the village, near the primary school opened in July 2011 and has been very successful. More than 240 people have bought membership cards and on average 100 items are being checked out per day.

The library is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 09.00 to 16.00

The 3 months membership costs 500 Kyat.

Reading the books or journals in the library is free of charge for everybody in the village, to ensure the opportunity is accessible for all. A small fee applies if a person borrows a book or journal. Income from this serves to enable the up-keeping of the library. Daily records are kept.

How can you help?

Your donation directly benefits their needs

Contact EXO Travel Myanmar for any donation

  • US$ 5              A set of 10 books, or 2 chairs
  • US$ 10           One table
  • US$ 30           One month librarian salary
  • US$ 50           One book shelf
  • US$ 160         English teacher coming to the village once a week (monthly salary and transport expense)


Visit the village:  Half day Extension from Ngapali Beach

It can easily be reached with a 1 hour boat ride, while the overland trip from Thandwe/Ngapali beach takes a few hours.

8 AM: Depart Ngapali by wooden fishing boat for a local approach to the village allowing to see in a quiet & non intrusive mode the marine life & activities of the villagers

9-9.30AM: Arrive in Maung Shwe Lay

9.30-10AM: Short walk to the small & friendly morning market walking through the village & fields past the clinic and library

10-10.30AM: tea & snacks in a villager’s house

10.30-11AM: Take ox cart ride through rural roads to a pristine beach

11-noon: Enjoy excellent snorkelling or just swimming

Noon – 1PM: lunch made of fish cooked on BBQ by the villagers

1 PM: return to Ngapali, arriving 2.30-3PM

EXO Foundation support

The EXO Foundation pay the salaries of the two librarians, as well as operations costs and EXO Travel Myanmar provided the librarians with some training in accounting and management so that they spare money for future expense. Two local newspapers are purchased and sent weekly: 7 Day News and Weekly Eleven Sport News.

Further needs identified

  • Expansion of Library- The building is too small lacking space to sit down and read. With a library extension more tables, chairs and shelves will be necessary.
  • English Lessons- There is a keen desire to learn English but there is no one in the village presently who can speak English.

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