Eighteen-year-old peace and civic education graduate Bawk Nu Aung.(Photo by Dustin Barter)
Speaking Up, Supporting Peace
“I want to get involved in politics because of the situation living in camps. It is a critical political issue. After the training with Naushawng Education Network (NSEN), I learnt from the course that politics is in everything – the conflict is related to politics. If I am involved in politics and society, I can help solve the conflict and we can leave the camp. Politics is the reason this crisis continues,” explains 18-year-old peace and civic education graduate, Bawk Nu Aung.
Displaced by civil war in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, Bawk Nu Aung epitomises a priority of our Durable Peace Programme; supporting communities to better understand and influence Myanmar’s peace processes. People displaced by war, particularly women, face some of the worst impacts of war, yet often have minimal or no influence in peace processes that are monopolised by military and politicians. This occurs despite global experience demonstrating that involving communities in peace processes, especially women, yields more comprehensive and sustainable peace. Addressing this imbalance is a core focus of our Programme with activities such as Kachin Baptist Convention’s partner NSEN’s peace and civic education delivered to young people displaced by civil war in Kachin.
“After the training, I am more aware that I need to take responsibility for society, particularly democracy and human rights. Before, I thought politics doesn’t matter for me, but after the course I learnt that politics is a concern for me and I need to be active in society. Now, I am more confident to discuss politics and stand up in public. Before, I had no knowledge about politics and the conflict situation. I had no confidence to speak up. The biggest change is that I am confident to speak up.”
“In my family, I discuss with my parents what I learnt, and with friends I talk about politics and they get interested. They learn from me. My parents are a bit disinterested. They want me to teach at university, but my interest is in politics. I want to work in social areas,” describes Bawk Nu Aung.
An active community member, volunteering on different projects, Bawk Nu Aung is now equipped to better serve her community and ensure their voices influence Myanmar’s peace processes, leading to her vision for a better future:
“I hope that when I go back to my village, the primary school will get upgraded to a high school. I want to help setup a clinic in the area. I really want my community to improve. I try to get involved in the process because this is what I dream for my community. I also want to promote political engagement to other people,” declares Bawk Nu Aung.
The 3.5 year Durable Peace Programme is funded through a seven million Euro European Union grant and implemented by a consortium of KBC, KMSS, Metta, Nyein, Oxfam, SwissAid and Trócaire, and eighteen civil society organisations, including NSEN.