Supporting Conflict-affected Children in Myanmar’s Rakhine State30. 1. 2020
Due to the security concerns of the fighting in Rakhine State,movements and work of NGO´s were restricted. Heavy fighting near the town of Minbya is upending the lives of many vulnerable people, especially children. In response, People in Need (PIN) and a local partner, Community Center, are working to mitigate threats to children’s mental well-being, physical safety, and legal vulnerabilities.
As part of a 12-day program, funded by the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund, participants spend two hours a day studying with community volunteers, who, with guidance from PIN staff, lead workshops in the local language. The project supports children between the ages of six and 12. Local volunteers are also trained to provide psychosocial support in targeted areas.
Twelve-year-old Ko Ko Aung, one of the program’s participants, is a clever boy who has always excelled in school. He lives with his father, mother, and twin brother in the village of May Lun, and enjoys playing football with his friends. He often dreams about being a bird. “I want to be a bird because birds can fly whenever they want to go somewhere,” he says. “I would like to fly without wings, to travel to many places.” Ko Ko also wants to become a teacher in his village.
Speaking about his experience in the program, Ko Ko says: “I really liked the activities I attended with my brother on Saturdays and Sundays. I learned a lot from this program and would really like to thank PIN and my teachers, who were volunteers from our community.” The program has also enabled Ko Ko and his brother, Nyi Nyi, to make new friends.
Ko Ko adds that he has noticed changes in himself thanks to the project, especially with regard to his own self-confidence. Before receiving support, he did not know how to control his emotions, but he has learned a lot about self-control.
The program also explores how to keep safe from sexual and other physical abuse. “I have no experience with this, but I learned which parts of my body others are not allowed to touch. If someone touches me in this way, I am to say ‘no’ and leave the scene, as well as to tell mom and dad, the village head, or committee members from our village,” Ko Ko explains, adding: “I’m looking forward to the next course run by PIN.”