British woman tries to raise money for flight by asking for donations in Mandalay and Yangon

Adele Hannah Groom in Yangon.
Adele Hannah Groom in Yangon.

Facebook in Myanmar lit up a week ago when a photo circulated of a foreign woman in Mandalay asking for financial assistance on the street so she could travel to a neighboring country.

“Can you help me get to India, thank you,” a sign she carried said in Burmese and English, according to authorities.

Naturally, this attracted the attention of the police, who put her on a bus to Yangon and then took her to the British Embassy. The police identified her as Adele Hannah Groom, 31.

This is the photo that circulated online.

I followed the strange case on social media, so I was surprised to see Adele walking down Mahabandoolah Street on Saturday. I approached her and struck up a conversation. She said she could talk for a few minutes but we ended up speaking for about half an hour.

She told me she was a schoolteacher in England and has been traveling for years, having been to Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and now Burma. Her next destination is India, where she wants to go for meditation purposes.

“In a process of spiritual growth, 100 percent of my life or my time is dedicated to purifying myself,” she said, adding that she has set up free education programs for people “all over the world.”

“So, what I do now is I travel for meditation, I grow myself, I learn about myself.”

She said she couldn’t use the embassy for help as she wants to go to India, not England. Her expenses came from the goodwill of other people.

“I can’t purify myself in a job chasing after money. I can go anywhere, people come and speak to me for some reason. They see something in me and they see what I am doing. They speak with me and then I get donations, I don’t even ask for donations. Sometimes, people take me for lunch without even knowing who I am. They take me even into their home without even knowing my situation. The thing is, when you follow the laws of nature, you can get provided for.”

She arrived in Yangon from Kuala Lumpur in the end of January, she said. She practiced Vipassana meditation in Mandalay and was searching for a specific Buddhist meditation center in Yangon, where she plans to spend 12 days before going to India, but she still needs money to pay for the flight.

When I asked what she will do if she doesn’t get help, she said, “I have 100 percent faith. I will leave on the 24th. God is with me and is providing everything that I need.”

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