Salesian sisters in Cambodia and Myanmar


Don Bosco Salesian Sisters came to Cambodia in 1992, when former refugees have re-entered and re-settled in their country, to help the reconstruction and development of the country. The Salesian Sisters saw the need for education, human promotion and development of youth, especially of children and young women, particularly in the area of women and youth education, primary education and skills training. 

At present the Sisters run three Vocational Training Centers for Girls, four Kindergartens, two Elementary Schools and one High School from grade 7 until grade 11.

We are 26 salesian sisters, who are currently spreading the Word of God in Cambodia. 22 in Phnom Penh and 4 in Battambang.

Our VISION is a peaceful, developed Cambodia, where:
- poor youth receive quality education,
- moral and spiritual values are upheld,
- women play active roles in the decision-making and nation-building proceeds.

- to inspire hope,
- to nurture life and
- to promote human dignity
through integral education of poor youth, especially girls, that they may experience God's love and be empowered to become active and honest citizens.

Since we started our educative mission in Cambodia, the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MOEYS) has expressed its appreciation for the work that the Salesian Sisters are doing for poor children and young women in Phnom Penh as well as in Battambang. With much encouragement and gratitude they granted us school-opening permits and facilitated the inauguration of our two kinder-elementary schools, two vocational training centers in the city and one literacy & sewing center in Battambang.

Brief history
Our presence in Cambodia was solicited, in 1992, by the Salesian Fathers, already working in the country. The then Mother General, M. Marinella Castagno, entrusted the preliminary survey for a possible presence in Cambodia to the Thai Provincial, Sr. Teresa Kohasuwan, and to the councilor for the missions in our Institute, Sr. Lina Chiandotto. The survey was carried out in March 2002.

The report on the survey revealed a sad state of the people of Cambodia, survivors of the Pol Pot genocide. The people lacked every means to live a human life since they had been deprived for years of education and of possibility to develop humanly and socially. The economy was at the lowest possible level and hunger and sickness were extensive.

The arrival in the country of the UNTAC troupes, (United Nations Transitorial Authority Cambodia) opened all hearts to hope in a new and hopeful beginning. One could see children roaming in the street lights since most homes were still deprived of such commodity.

The General Council approved the new foundation and the Thai Province lost no time in processing the requirements in view of establishing a community before the end of the year.


We can trace back the first arrival of the FMA in Myanmar to the year 1961.  Four sisters: Sr. Maria Del Corso, Sr. Iva Andreotti, Sr. Agnese Azzopardi, and Sr. Maria Thottungal, arrived in Mandalay on 14th November 1961.  In the chronicle of Mandalay, we read the express purpose of their coming: “The education of the children of the area, especially the catholic children, many of whom have had to attend Buddhist State Schools.”

The Sisters had to leave the country on 12th June, 1966, because the government nationalized and took over the schools.
However, history did not end there.  When the missionaries were expelled, there were already some young Burmese women undergoing their formation to the FMA life in India, who, on becoming FMA, were not allowed to enter Burma again and, therefore, had to remain out of the country for quite a few years.

On 1st December 1987 Sr. Mary Khin Myint, who was residing in India, was able to re-enter Burma to visit her family.  However, as a Burmese citizen returning to her country, she had to surrender her passport to the Government and therefore could not return to India.  Sr. Mary worked connected with the Salesian Fathers in Anisakan, who were very hospitable and kind to her.  Upon writing to the then Mother General, M. Marinella Castagno, asking advice regarding community life which she  was  not able to live, the foreseeing Mother Marinella told her to look for vocations which would, with time, solve her community problem.

 Soon she was able to gather a small group of girls who manifested their desire to become Salesian Sisters.  Sr. Mary, under the supervision of the Calcutta Province and subsidies from the Center of the Institute, was able to build a small house in a land close to the Salesians in Anisakan.  The Salesian Fathers were very helpful to Sr. Mary in this difficult task.  Thus in 1990 she began the formation of some aspirants.

 On 22nd February 1992 Sr. Tecla Chit May arrived from India and on 27th June Sr. Philomena Ma Yee came from Thailand.  The three sisters worked hard to establish again the Institute in Myanmar and in 1994 Sr. Philomena Ma Yee was nominated Superior and it was thus that the community was established. The mission contemplated for the community was: Aspirantate, kindergarten, teaching catechism, visiting families and oratory.

In 1994 four candidates were sent to the Philippines for their novitiate and in 1996 four others were sent to the novitiate of the Calcutta Province.  However from 1997 candidates were again sent to the Philippines for their novitiate until 2003 when the novitiate was opened in Anisakan while waiting for the construction of the new building in Pyin Oo Lwin.

The house was annexed to the Province of Calcutta (India) until 1997 when a new Visitatoria was set up in the South East Asia (SEA) comprising the houses of Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Myanmar and Vietnam with the Center of the Visitatoria in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Then Myanmar became part of the Province “Mary, our Help – CMY” which is composed of Cambodia and Myanmar which is canonically erected on August 5, 2009.

At present the 26 Salesian Sisters run two vocational training center for girls, four Kindergartens, one boarding school, animate young people and children for the catechesis and oratories in four parishes, after-school tuition classes. The sisters are distributed in five communities, three in Mandalay Diocese and two in Yangon Diocese.

Our vision is a peaceful, developed Myanmar, where

-       Poor youth receive quality education,
-       Moral and spiritual values are upheld,
-       Women play active roles in the decision-making and nation-building proceeds.

 Our mission is:
-       to inspire hope
-       to nurture life and
-       to promote human dignity

through integral education of poor youth, especially girls, that they may experience God’s love and be empowered to become active and honest citizens.

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