The unexpected experience in Myanmar
Today is our second day visiting Myanmar with the IKEA Foundation and Save the Children. We took one hour travelling from Yangon to Shwepyithar. When we arrived in Hlaw Gar village, we were welcomed by traditional music, dance moves and bunches of roses. Here, we were meeting with the children’s group, 15 children aged between 11 and 17. The children represented 15 project target communities.
Although they are young, they are very mature in thinking. I am especially impressed with one of the stories shared by a girl who saw a neighbour crying. Her neighbour’s family is not able to afford their kid’s private tuition fee. Because of this, the child was assigned to always sit at the back. No matter how hard-working the child was, she always got low scores in examinations. She tried to find out the reasons but got neglected by the teacher. After evaluating the case, this children’s group member thought this might be a case of discrimination and she reported it to local children’s protection group. After reviews, the group talked to the teacher about children’s rights. Eventually, the teacher understood the importance of children’s rights and starting giving the kid equal treatment.
This is one of the many stories that touched my heart. The other stories shared by these children’s group members showed their abilities in problem solving and analytic skills.
Next we met with a child-protection group, which is made up of fifteen 20-60 year-old representatives. Membership is voluntary and the groups are usually made up of community leaders, authorities, teachers, women’s affairs associations and parents. All of them treat every child as their own kid. Not only do they care for the kids, more than I expected, they are focused on children protection activities 24 hours a day. It is always on their mind.
After having a Myanmar style lunch, we continued our visit. We travelled to Bone Shae Kone to meet with Township Child Network Group, which is made up of fifteen 15-19 year-olds who are a mix of students, out-of-school children and working youths. We also met with two community-based organisations, the Gardener and Pan Daing Shin.
I don’t speak Burmese, but the names of the organisations impressed me. The name Pan Daing Shin, in Myanmar, literally means “The owner of your goal”. I can completely feel their determination to save the children and their mission to bring the public’s awareness to children’s rights.
When I go back to Hong Kong, I will definitely share this unexpected experience with as many co-workers and friends as I can.