Getting More Involvement from the Community
In Dala and Shwe Phy Thar townships in the capital city of Yangon (Rangoon), AAR Japan is helping PWDs to establish and operate self-help groups. Each group, composed of 10-20 PWDs, is working to raise awareness about PWDs in the region and increase educational and employment opportunities for PWDs in the community. When a new group starts, AAR Japan staff members give them a lecture about basic knowledge such as the rights of PWDs and the advantages of working as a group. Next, AAR Japan conducts training sessions on topics such as leadership and accounting for efficient operation of the group’s activities. Later, AAR Japan helps them generate income by donating livestock and supporting the start of new businesses. Currently, six self-help groups are active in the two townships.
|May 31st, 2012 – A workshop conducted by an AAR Japan staff member for a PWD self-help group. The participants were all eagerly listening to the lecturer.|
One of the group members, for whom this was the first time working, expressed the joy of participating in society, saying, “Running a shop isn’t easy, but it’s a great pleasure to have our own shop and earn money by ourselves.” Nay Lin Aung, a 23 year-old barber says, “It would’ve been very hard to start a shop by oneself. However, I was fortunate to be able to achieve that goal in cooperation with all the other members.” In the future, they plan to allocate 70% of their profit to running costs of the shop such as expenditure on electricity and salary for the barbers, and the rest will be saved and used for opening a new business like a grocery or dressmaking shop.
|August 15th, 2012 – The bright and cheerful interior was collectively decided by the group. The members also negotiated with the local government and got free use of the land for the shop.|
If there is a school that does not accept students with disabilities, we visit the school to hold discussions with local education authorities and principals of the school. We have also helped improve accessibility of schools by donating desks that are suitable for wheelchair users and renovating the school environment. Furthermore, targeting teachers of children with disabilities, AAR Japan conducts workshops to explain the importance of special considerations for those children, for instance, the need for patience when dealing with students with disabilities because they tend to take a longer time to complete a task, but that does not necessarily mean they are incompetent. So far, 103 children with disabilities in Dala and Shwe Pyi Thar have been able to go to school. AAR Japan is also assisting school-aged children with disabilities, who cannot afford to go to school, by offering them school uniforms and other school supplies. In addition, we arrange private tutors for children who take time to learn.
AAR Japan helped a local boy to enroll in school. The boy is Nine Nine One, a 13 year-old who has a disability in his legs caused by cerebral palsy. When he was young, his mother carried him to school every day in her arms. However, he had to give up school as he grew too big and his mother could no longer hold him AAR Japan intervened by improving the physical accessibility of his school by installing a ramp at the entrance, and modified his wheelchair, which was provided by another organization, for an easier commute. All the efforts paid off and he is now going to school again. AAR Japan is assisting him further by arranging a private teacher so that he can catch up with his classmates. Nine says, “I’m glad to be able to learn in school again. I want to study computer science, and work at the AAR Japan office in the future so that I can assist other PWDs.”
These activities have been made possible by individual donations, Grant Aid for Japanese NGO projects from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Felissimo Earth Village Fund, and Sekisui House Matching Program.
AAR Japan Myanmar Office: Akemi KITAHas been working in AAR’s Myanmar (Burma) Office since February, 2012. After working at a hospital as a medical technologist, studied public health in Canada and Thailand, then joined AAR Japan.