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Community Development Workshops in Kayah State

Kayah State is one of the smallest states in Myanmar. It borders Thailand and is home to the Kayah hill-tribe, formerly known as Karenni or Red Karen. Kayah State is said to be one of the poorest areas in Myanmar with thousands of people internally displaced from their villages and living in hiding in the jungle as result of fighting between the Myanmar Army and insurgent groups. Up to 2010 the State was off limits for tourists and foreigners; in a few cases international humanitarian organizations had been granted a travel permit to the state capital Loikaw but were not allowed to travel on to the villages.

In September 2004 Shalom (Nyein) Foundation and People In Need started training workshops about community development in the eight townships of Kayah State. For the past four years Shalom Foundation had already worked with the Kayah State Peace Committee and organized peace-building seminars and dialogue training. Recently, the Kayah State Peace Committee asked Shalom to start community development projects in the region. To prepare the local communities in Kayah State for implementing and managing development projects, PIN and Shalom saw the need to first train local leaders in basic skills for identifying local needs and managing development projects.

Jointly Shalom Foundation and People in Need organized community development workshops for village leaders and headmen with the objectives of

  • Raising awareness for the challenges in their local communities,
  • Enabling the individuals at the grassroots to identify the issues and to analyze solutions,
  • Defining the needs and priorities,
  • Finding ways and means to fulfill these needs,
  • Helping the people at the grassroots to manage community projects on their own.

Each of the eight workshops was scheduled for 14 days; the workshops were organized by Shalom Foundation through its regional coordinators. The trainers were employed locally or made available by Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC), Metta Development Foundation and Karuna Social Services.