People in Need assisted Myanmar IDPs to set up businesses and built schools for 1,787 children

Published: Mar 26, 2014 Reading time: 5 minutes
People in Need assisted Myanmar IDPs to set up businesses and built schools for 1,787 children
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Prague, Yangon (26 March 2014) – Raging battles between Kachin Independence Army (KIA)  and the Myanmar army have been going  on in Kachin State for almost three years.  As a result, more than 100,000 people have been displaced and are now living in 140 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). They have to put up with limited access to education, health care and food.

Therefore, People in Need (PIN) together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic (MZV ČR),  and local partner organization Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS) as well as the People in Need’s Club of Friends built temporary schools for hundreds of children of the internally displaced persons. Additionally, nine temporary pre-schools for almost 1,000 children have been built in five IDP camps and dozens of families were trained in the basics of setting up a business. They also received small grant to start up an income generating activity.

Lum, who has been living in the camp for internally displaced persons for over two years, set up one and with the help of PIN and MZV ČR he was able to open his bicycle repair shop. „I have always enjoyed fixing various bike parts, and I thought it might be a good idea to start a business in this field. Many people in the camps use mostly bikes for commuting. When I heard about the programme offering training and even funding, I immediately knew I wanted to join it, “ says Lum.

People have been trained in animal husbandry, intensive vegetable gardening or sewing. The training included basics in accountancy, choosing a product to sell or finding the right location for a shop. They have also learnt about making profit or meeting customer’s preferences.

PIN's aid in figures:

1,787 children attend two newly built schools in IDP camps

978 children aged 3-5 attend 9 new pre-schools

873 children under five have received nutritional food kits

2,252 students in IDP camps have received food supplements

53 IDPs were trained in income-generating activities

48 families received small grants and started businesses

2,642 refugees can use three new marketplaces

After a successful completion of the training, Lum received approximately $165 to start up a business he decided to call Three in One. “When I built my bicycle service shop, I thought it would be good to add something to it. Therefore, I started a small hair salon in the corner of my shop. I also set up sweets stand for people passing by. So basically it is a small three-in-one,” says Lum adding that on a good day he makes even four dollars a day.

What is Lum planning next? “Eventually, when I’m back in my village, I will open a new shop. And it will definitely be a bigger one,” says Lum. Fifty other families have had a similar opportunity like Lum. “Business contributed to the increase of their incomes and thus lower their dependence on humanitarian aid. New grocery stores, small tea shops and eateries, pigsties, a soap factory, and shops with vegetables have been founded in the IDP camps,” says Petr Drbohlav, PIN Regional Coordinator for South and Southeast Asia. “People use gained income to pay tuition for their children or medical expenses. Some save small amounts with community savings groups as a contingency for worse times,” Petr Drbohlav adds.

PIN together with MZV ČR have also built three makeshift markets in the middle of the IDP camps. Each market consists of 12 stalls and represents the main source of income for the IDPs. “The marketplace has provided food supply and a space for economic activities inside the IDP camps. Some IDPs got even inspired to open their own small shops with vegetables or mushrooms, “ says Petr Drbohlav.

Children gained a safe playground after 30 months in the camp

On top of that, PIN together with MZV ČR focused on education and leisure activities for children. There are 1,787 students in new schools in Lanapa and Lagayang IDP camps and 978 children under five attend newly built pre-schools, which are equipped with tables, chairs and have access to proper water and sanitation facilities. “Many children have been living in the camps for over 30 months. Now, they have found a haven where they can sing, paint or dedicate time to learning,“ says Petr Drbohlav. “These activities are very important for them because, with the ongoing conflict, their stay in IDP camps makes them suffer from mental disorders and their return into normal life becomes more and more complicated,” Drbohlav adds.

The most vulnerable groups are children, pregnant or nursing mothers or the elderly who suffer from lack of adequate food. The IDP camps are often located high in the mountains where you cannot grow anything in the winter months. People in Need therefore provided food supplements such as eggs, chicken soup or pasta for 2,252 students of boarding schools in the IDP camps. Another 873 children under five received nutritional food kits with sugar, eggs, cereal beverage, condensed milk and biscuits.

The armed conflict has been going on for almost three years now and the camps for internal displaced persons still need help. PIN will continue to support especially small businesses, children's access to education and appropriate nutrition. In spite of PIN being supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, providing assistance in the Kachin IDP camps would not be possible without hundreds of donors who contribute regularly to the People in Needs Club of Friends and to corporate donors – Pressentechnik and Servistek. THANK YOU!

PIN in Myanmar/Burma

PIN has been working in Burma since 2006 and its work has been dedicated to the strengthening of the civil society. In response to the damage caused by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, PIN launched humanitarian programme in the country. The current focus is mainly on providing help to the internally displaced persons, supporting civil society programmes and education development. You can read more on the situation in Myanmar in the International Human Rights Clinic study at Harvard Law School here.

For more information contact:

Petr Drbohlav,

PIN Regional Coordinator for South and Southeast Asia

+420 724 329 285

Tereza Grünvaldová,

PIN Country Director in Myanmar/Burma

+959421148623 (GMT + 5.5 hours)

Autor: Petr Štefan