Inside Rangoon’s Home for the Aged

With the Catholic mission engrained throughout Burma in the late 19th century, the community led by French born Vicar Bishop Paul Bigandet sought out to do charitable works for the elderly in Rangoon. The results was the opening of a small cottage by two of his followers, teachers by the names of Gertrude di Oliveiro and Helen Carr, who dedicated the facility to helping those elderly with nowhere else to turn.

It was not until years later when Bigandet’s successor, Bishop Alexandre Cardot wished to see the program expanded, and he appealed his case to the Little Sisters of the Poor while on tour in France. The sisters, Roman Catholic religious institution for women founded in France in 1839, who are required to take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality, were receptive to the idea and on November 21, 1898 arrived in Burma to start the Home for the Aged Poor.

The home took on more residents and the need for a larger facility became quickly apparent, so they sold the cottage and in 1901, with the help of donors, purchased the land where the current home stands. Construction of the complex would be done piecemeal and the premises were expanded to its current state by 1923.

In 1966, the sisters passed responsibility of the home over to the pontifical congregation of the Sisters of Reparation and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. They continue to supervise the home to this day.

Located a stone’s throw from Kandawgyi Lake in Mingalar Taung Nyunt, the sprawling two story Home for the Aged complex has its own infirmary, split-gender dormitories, dining halls, spacious balconies  and at its heart, a sizable chapel with its own interior balcony.

As of January 2016, the home had 22 sisters overseeing 130 residents of various religious faiths from all over Burma.

Relics of Rangoon takes you inside.