In 2006 ActionAid piloted the Fellowship Programme, a unique project which aims to develop young leaders in Myanmar to work with communities. ActionAid ambassador Emma Thompson met the Fellows during a recent trip to Myanmar.
Fellows are well placed to communicate with local people and understand the complexity of their challenges and problems they face, as they too have faced inequality and poverty. The project enables ActionAid to reach some of the most vulnerable groups living in remote areas that the regime has closed to foreigners.
Meet some the faces behind the Fellows
In a country where 40% of the population are children and young people, the Fellowship provides a huge opportunity to harness the energy of a generation who have experienced poverty and witnessed their communities struggle.
Nan Yu Htay
Nan grew up in the Kyit Tee Village, where she is now a Fellow. She sees being part of the Fellows as a way to bring about change in her community.
She met newly-liberated pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Nan says: "I had lunch with her. I don’t know how to express the feeling, exciting, shaking, happy, I wanted to cry. I never thought I would meet the Lady. We knew that she fought for the nation, was put in jail but as a woman she did not give up."
Angelo Li Reh
The Fellows conferences bring together the whole group for a series of workshops and discussions.
Angelo says: "Before the first conference we talked about how nice it would be if we could come together, meet and share. Then the conference took place and it was like a dream come true. At the second conference we all had a goal of setting a vision. I was able to share the information with the community, raise awareness on land rights. At the third conference it was a joy to see the younger fellows. These conferences push us to do better because you want to tell people what you did well."
Tin is from Rahkine State and has been a Fellow since 2007. "When we became Fellows there was no one to guide us. But now, we can guide the young fellows. I had no idea what the conference will be like. I was surprised to see all these people doing a great job. It really encouraged me. At the last night of the conference, on the cultural night, my team didn’t bring our cultural dress because we didn’t think it was important. When I saw the other groups I realised how important it is to maintain our cultural identity as well as be united."
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