Volunteer Reflections

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Since we started in 2012, we collected stories from our volunteers, local volunteers, donors and NGO or student partners from Myanmar, giving birth to the first edition of our book.

Meilin, a HKU undergrad who is now doing her masters in Agricultural Economics in the US, shares her thoughts on Myanmar’s economy development. She volunteered in Myanmar’s Heart Development Organisation (MHDO) in June 2012:

Screenshot 2014-10-12 20.12.43Countries are becoming homogeneous all over the modern world. Sadly enough, even the once isolated and unique Burma has begun to divert to a capitalist way. Of course, there is nothing wrong for a country to develop its economy. However, i feel it is such a pity to see this only because of the monotonous criterion on value held in our world which leaves Burma with no alternatives if it wants to be a so-called good or successful country.

Quite often, I feel I am in two minds when thinking about Burma’s current economic growth. On one hand, I do wish the country to have advanced facilities, good health care and educa- tion like developed countries do. On the other hand, I doubt whether the western way is the optimal. Maybe Burma can be for us an example as a successful, or indeed happy, agricultural country.

Lucy Antrobus is a British student & Myanmar enthusiast. She was in Myanmar in June-July 2012. Here is an excerpt on her observations on Myanmar’s education:

Screenshot 2014-10-12 20.16.02“The thirst of the young for knowledge, as well as the scarcity in adequate educational resources seems well represented by a very popular ‘school’ in Yangon, run by solely one teacher, where there are often more than 400 students in the classes. Myanmar used to have the best education system in Asia, yet over the last few decades, standards have plummeted. Could foreign investors also offer their support through access to educational programmes when they move in to begin new projects in Myanmar?”

 

A foreign volunteer, Louis Pilard joined our programme at MHDO in June 2012 and he gained a whole new insight into the politics of Myanmar after his trip. Louis studies Environmental politics at postgraduate level.

“See, the problem is, the government officials give too little money to the engineers who are to build the canals and so they spend all the money making it look nice where it matters and then they have no money left to build it well anywhere else. But the farmers aren’t dumb, they know how to make their own irrigation, so when the canal fails to provide them with water, they make their own canals which work better than the original.” Wherever we walked we could see that farmers had improvised their own ways of collecting water and sharing it amongst themselves. The government was neither aware of the extent of their failure nor of the farmers’ capabilities to take control themselves.”

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