Young Leaders start field work in Myanmar
Five alumni of the 2014 Myanmar Young Leaders Programme have been awarded funding to run small field projects back in Myanmar. These projects provide an opportunity for the alumni to continue to develop their leadership, research and management skills while helping their local community. Each project is also supported by the alumni’s community organisation in Myanmar. The field projects all involve community education and will contribute to Myanmar’s peaceful transition to democracy and continued development.
2015 is an important year for Myanmar as it holds its first widely contested national election in decades. However many people in the rural Chin State where Ngun Khar lives are unaware of their new voting rights or are simply too afraid to exercise them.
“The Chin people are still afraid to participate in political issues because of the long regime of military dictatorship… to be free from fear all citizens need to understand their rights and responsibilities.”
Ngun Khar’s field project will teach 70 community leaders from a wide range of villages in Chin State the value of voting, the voting system and the importance of civic participation in the democratic process. The 3 day course will adopt a participatory learning approach using role-play, roundtable discussion, debates and practical exercises. As community leaders each participant will be able to share what they have learnt with their community and help the people of Chin state fully participate in Myanmar’s November election.
Marip Lu Saing (Lu Lu)
“many of the teenage IDPs stay not in the camp, but are boarders at the High School in Mai Ja Yang and are housed in unsatisfactory conditions and without access to fresh food… they have not only poor school conditions but their food is of poor nutrition.”
Lu Lu’s field project will teach 20 students at the Mai Ja Yang boarding school about organic fertilizers and provide tools and hands-on training to help the students develop and grow their own organic vegetable garden at the school. Lu Lu hopes the garden will sustainably produce enough fresh vegetables to supplement the meals of all 337 students at the High School so they are ready to learn every day.
Sam’s field work project aims to improve the education and exam pass rates of students in Rakhine state so they have brighter job opportunities. Public schools are grossly underfunded in Myanmar and students whose parents can’t afford private tuition are unlikely to pass the university entrance exam.
Sam will work with his community organisation Lamp (which is co-funding the project) to run a 10 week basic English grammar course for 40 students during Myanmar’s summer school break.
“The objective of this course is to learn English that will be useful at university… the English taught will also be very helpful for those who apply for jobs to teach English and other subjects and in government offices.”
Computer skills are of growing importance and Sam’s project will teach six students how to use basic computer programs such as Microsoft Office. Two staff will be sent to Yangon for computer repair training which will help them not only maintain Lamp’s six computers but also build the organisations sustainability by servicing other nearby computers for a fee.
Ei Ei Zin
Ei Ei’s project aims to provide youth working in community organisations in Rakhine state with a basic knowledge of democratic norms, human rights and rule of law so they can be positive participants in Myanmar’s transition to democracy.
“People in Rakhine still need education on basic democratic norms (equality, diversity, individual rights)… without democratic knowledge, skills and values this society is the most sensitive to be affected by conflicts created by the authority.”
Ei Ei plans on running a 7 day training course for 20 young people who are working for community organisations involved in education, women’s empowerment and politics in Rakhine state. The first part of the training will provide participants with a basic knowledge of human rights, identity and values, stereotypes and active democratic participation. The second part will teach the participants how to be trainers themselves and give them the skills to train others in democratic norms and participation in through their community organisation.
John Jeffry Seng
Despite the best intentions aid and development work can sometimes be wasted or even fuel further conflict if it is seen as the giving preferential treatment and not reflecting the local context of dividers and connectors among people. Jeffry’s field project aims to improve the way NGOs in war torn Eastern Kachin deliver humanitarian aid by teaching them to take account of the local context beyond religious and ethnic.
Jeffry’s project will provide five selected staff members form each of the NGOs with an intensive five day training course in the Do No Harm Framework.
“The Do No Harm framework is important because it gives guidance on how to deliver the humanitarian aid and development assistance effectively, increases the accountability of staff working in conflict contexts by knowing that every action is giving implicit ethnic messages.”
The trainees will be able to teach others within their organisation and help improve the way in which these NGO’s are working in Eastern Kachin. In doing so Jeffry’s project will be contributing to the development of a peaceful Myanmar.