By Hla Min
Welcome to this gathering! Today is a special gathering organized by the 64/65 intakes and sponsored by the Steeve and Helen Kay Saya Health Fund. Today’s event complements last month’s 64/65 intake held an Acariya Pu Zaw Pwe and tomorrow’s seventh RIT Grad Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe.
In addition to paying our respect to the sayas and sayamas, today we would also like to present to Ko Thaung Sein (Steeve Kay, EC70) an appreciation award for his continued support. Although Steeve Kay migrated to the US in 1971 to pursue his dreams, he never forgot his roots, his alma mater and his friends. Over the past 17 years, Steeve has made various contributions totaling $200,000. Highlights of those contributions are as follows:
Golden Sponsor for SPZPs
As you recall, the first ever RIT Grad Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe was held in the year 2000. It was started by a group of RIT students in San Francisco, among them Ko Benny Tan and me. I remember when I sent out the invitation flyers, we received a $1,000 check from Steeve. Later, he donated $3,000 as seed money to assist with fundraising efforts. Throughout the years, Steeve has supported multiple world-wide reunions and SPZP as a golden sponsor.
Health Care Fund
In June 2005, Steeve set-up a $50,000 Saya Health Care Fund administered by U Win Khaing of MES and his administrative committee. Many saya/sayamas attending today have benefited from that fund. Steeve Kay also helped to set-up a second fund, administered by the 64/65 intakes, as a supplemental retirement fund for the sayas and sayamas.
Kay Family Foundation
In May 2013, Kay Family Foundation, a philanthropic foundation set-up by Steeve Kay, sponsored the MoST (Ministry of Science and Technology) delegation to visit Centers of Excellence in California. The delegation was headed by the late Dr. Ko Ko Oo and Professor Nyi Hla Nge.
2015 Alumni Reunion in Los Angeles
Last year, in October 2015, Steeve Kay donated $30,000 in matched funds to hold the RIT in Southern California, Los Angeles. During the gathering, he sang a Burmese folk song ‘Shwe Me’ to express his feeling towards Myanmar, the land where he spent his youth growing up.
This year, Steeve Kay’s own health fell ill. We wish him good health. Instead of attending the RIT Grad Reunion himself, he asked Ko Benny to hold a gathering and Pu Zwe Pwe this year. Ko Benny consulted with his classmates and decided that December 28, 2016 – the day preceding the Seventh RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe – seemed to be the right time. The classmates, in turn, would like to honor their life-long friend and sponsor of numerous RIT-related activities.
History and Philanthropy of Steeve
The history of Steeve and his philanthropic work should be recorded and preserved for posterity.
Every saya and sayama will be presented with a gift package from Steeve. It will include:
- A short biography of Steeve
- The commemorative issue of the RIT Alumni Newsletter for SPZP-2000
- A two-set DVD of SPZP-2000
- A CD of photos and articles related to SPZP and RIT-related activities
- A monetary gift of K1 lakh for each saya and sayama, and an additional K1 lakh for sayagyis
Today’s event covers three parts:
- Paying respect to the sayas and sayamas who taught the Combined Intake of 64 and 65 students
- A mini-gathering of the Combined Intake of 64 and 65 students
- Appreciation award to be presented to Ko Thaung Sein (Steeve Kay, EC70)
Ko Khin Maung Lay will be the emcee.
Selected sayas and alumni will recall Steeve’s work and their importance and impact to the RIT community.