Determination, courage and resilience

Before coming to Myanmar, I often thought about my first blog and what it would entail. I imagined that after a visit to a child-protection group, I would be writing of the sadness of the situation here and how the people struggle in their daily lives with no help. I thought that I would be writing mainly about the children of these townships (Hlaingthayar and Shwepyithar) and telling their stories. However, what affected me the most was the determination, courage and resilience of the adults of the child-protection groups and community-based organisations.

Hlaingthayar Township (Ka Sin and Ward 7) Child Group (CG) - By John
Hlaingthayar Township (Ka Sin and Ward 7) Child Group (CG)

The children we met are truly inspiring, from knowing their rights (and acting on them) to looking after friends who aren’t even members of the group. They were so mature for their age, which impressed me initially. On reflection, I reminded myself that they are children who shouldn’t have to deal with these issues at such a young age. As a parent, this saddened me greatly. These children are a true credit to their township, city, and country, and hopefully they will help change the culture of child neglect that exists here.

Parents and carers of the child-protection groups and community-based organisations are some of the most amazing people I have had the privilege to meet. Their courage and determination are astounding. They themselves have gone through most of their lives living with violence, abuse, trafficking, forced working, etc., and some have previously beaten their own children. They put themselves in dangerous situations by confronting abusers and traffickers in an effort to change the culture towards children in Myanmar. Thanks to training from Save the Children, funded by the IKEA Foundation, they embrace the importance of protecting the children in their communities, and they have found their voices. The only frustration they show is the speed (or lack of it) of the process, and they would like more change to happen as quickly as possible.

Hlaingthayar Community Hall Meeting with community-based organisations - By John
Hlaingthayar Community Hall, meeting with community-based organisations

Despite the daily hardships they face, these wonderful people—adults and children alike—always seem to have time to smile and be positive. They are hopeful about their futures. I have nothing but admiration for these dedicated people. They are the true heroes of the community.

Finally, I want to share with you a conversation I had with Aung Soeoo, a chairman of one of the CBOs in Shwepyithar. He said, “All children are my children.”

Aung Soeoo (2nd from left)
Aung Soeoo (2nd from left)
    John Collinson