On my bus ride from Yangon to Bagan, Myanmar, I was lucky to sit next to a Project Manager from ADRA, a non-profit and international non-governmental development and relief organization working in more than 120 countries worldwide. In Myanmar, it was established in 1993 and has been providing development and relief assistance throughout the country. The central office is located in Yangon and there are 5 satellite offices in Labutta (Ayeyarwaddy Division), Pakokku (Magwe Division), Sisaing (Southern Shan State), Laukai and Namtit (both Northern Shan State). ADRA seeks to identify and address social injustice in developing countries and has partnerships with rural communities, country authorities, donors and fund raising partner offices within the ADRA network. In Myanmar, ADRA concentrates on six cores: water & sanitation, food security & livelihoods, healthcare, education, disaster rehabilitation and infrastructure.
Thanks to the Project Manager and his team, I was able to get an insight into ADRA’s work in the Pakokku district where I was taken one full day to visit different projects. We visited 3 small villages in the so-called Magway Region or Dry Zone, central Myanmar: Kan Net with 538 inhabitants, Pay Pin Taik with 700 and Tha Yet Kwa with 786 inhabitants.
I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and friendliness of the villagers who had prepared a table full of food and drinks for me, took their time to explain me the main problems, needs and progresses in each place, who came to see me as if I were famous and even offered me presents and their hard earned food. A 90-year old man, for example, offered me a hand full of rice that was going to be his only food for the next days. He makes bamboo baskets by himself that he exchanges at the local market for rice, his main alimentation. In Kan Net, a 92-year old lady had heard about my visit and walked a long way just to come and see me.
ADRA will provide assistance in these villages at least until 2013 and the main problems in this area are: lack of water and job opportunities, harsh working conditions and dryness, no market for local products and low education opportunities. The main needs and objectives for 2012 will be electricity, village libraries, water facilities, and bridge and road renovations to improve the villagers’ everyday life.
My visit to these 3 villages, and the very special way I was welcomed, was definitely one of my Myanmar highlights that will last forever in my memories. I would like to thank the ADRA team for making this visit possible (I know that getting permits for foreigners in Myanmar is not always easy) and taking their time to explain me the different projects.