Filming our newest campaign promo!
We women foundation's 2013-2014 campaign, A Future to Build: Burma by Women, is focused on raising funds for higher education for the women of Burma. Many minority women in Burma are passionate about taking part in the struggle for human rights, but without higher education, they are often pushed back into traditional roles that do not permit them the freedom and mobility to contribute to Burma's economic, social, and political future. Higher education enables qualified scholarship recipients to eventually attain leadership positions where they can influence change, drive social reform, and most importantly--empower thousands more to do the same.
Many organizations have projects that focus on primary education and basic education, but We women believes that higher education is also important for cultivating personal, professional, and intellectual development so that effective community leaders can emerge. We believe that capacity should be developed within communities to create effective policy, address local needs from within, and manage community development responsibly. All too often, important decisions are left to influential outside entities. We women views higher education as a way to build community capacity, and by educating even a handful of committed members, entire communities can be impacted.
With your support, We women is already witnessing the benefits that higher education brings to our students. Read the inspiring stories of three of our amazing scholarship students below.*
Future Director of We women--Burma: Fighting for equal education in Burma
As the daughter of parents who were both educators by profession, our first student who graduated this year was instilled at a young age with the belief that education and critical thinking are crucial components for the success of a healthy society:
"They showed me that knowledge and education are crucial to a strong and successful society, and therefore inspired my own passion for education. From my parents I also learnt that strength comes from playing an active role in life, and in bearing responsibility gracefully," she said.
Following the completion of her degree in History at the acclaimed Mandalay University, she worked as an English teacher near the Chinese border. After six years working at a private school, she was sadly forced to leave Burma and emigrate to Thailand due to the tumultuous political situation which threatened her personal safety. Despite the emotional hardships she faced as a result of leaving her home, her family, and her job behind, she remained determined to contribute to educational efforts within the Shan migrant community in northern Thailand. She assisted an NGO helping migrant workers by teaching English, Shan, and computer skills. She also worked with a radio station, helping to broadcast programs on education and Shan news to the Shan community. At the time, our student could not be a classroom teacher in Thailand because she did not have refugee status and was therefore residing in Thailand illegally. However, she was resolute in continuing to do the work she is passionate about as a volunteer with migrant laborers, a constituency made up mostly of poor families from Shan state:
"I came to realize that many of these migrants could neither read nor write, and that these deficiencies were a direct result of the poor education system in Burma. This lack of basic knowledge puts migrant workers at a distinct disadvantage, as the only jobs then open to them fall under the ‘Three Ds’ – dangerous, dirty or difficult – jobs in construction or cleaning, which carry very low salaries and often high health risks," she expressed.
"If the workers were better educated, more opportunities would be open to them and they would better be able to support themselves and their families, rising from the vulnerable positions they are currently confined to. Witnessing the inability of some laborers to even sign their own name motivated me to continue my fight for equal education for all."
This student began her MA degree in Educational Administration in 2012 at Assumption University in Bangkok with the support of a We women scholarship. Inspired by her previous work as a teacher as well as a manager at an organization that provides educational opportunities to marginalized communities in Burma, she remains passionate about education and teacher-training. We women foundation is proud to announce that she will be the future Director of We women--Burma once we open a branch inside Myanmar.
A successful MA thesis defense
In October of this year, a scholarship student from Shan State passed her thesis defense and earned her Master’s degree at Assumption University in Bangkok.
This student had to work very hard before being admitted to do her final defense. At one stage her adviser told her: “Go and change the structure and get more background information; you still have a lot of work to do.”
When our student replied that she wanted to finish within a week, her adviser said “That is impossible.”
After a week, the student went back to her adviser and stated that she had completed her thesis.
“I don´t believe you,” her advisor told her in amazement.
“Believe me, look at my eyes, I hardly slept this week.”
The professor read her work and told her she was astonished and that she could continue on to defend her thesis. Just after she passed her defense, sheapplied for a job as a program developer at an NGO focused on education. Despite the large number of applicants, our student got the job! In a skype meeting, she told the Founder and current Director of We women Ursula Cats that she will build up her skills and gain experience in her current job so that in the future she can build a school for impoverished children back in Shan State. We women foundation is confident that she will excel in her new job and we are determined to help her reach her final goals.
Master's in English Language
Finally, We women foundation wishes to congratulate a third student on graduating with a Master's degree in English Language Teaching from Assumption University in Bangkok. Considering the fact that English will become the official language of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, it will be crucial for highly motivated and well-educated English instructors and curriculum developers like her to play an active role in the Burmese education system. Best of luck to her, and all of our warm congratulations.
As a small NGO, We women foundation could not be successful in the work we are so passionate about without help from friends, donors, and volunteers. We are so grateful to our supporters around the world for publicizing our mission, supporting us with financial contributions, and working side-by-side with us as volunteers.
Remember, you or your networks can donate to We women foundation via GlobalGiving today.
*To protect the identity of our students, some of whom are from conflict areas in Burma, we have refrained from using any names.
We women at a conference in BKK
Filming our newest campaign promo!