Posts Tagged ‘Burma’

Journeys Within Our Community

Village communities in Southeast Asia get nurturing help from within and with the assistance of international volunteers via short breaks (a week or so) or longer stints for service (month or more) from Journeys Within Our Community. By working at the local level and focusing on community-determined needs like clean water, education, health, shelter, and emergency relief, JWOC starts projects small that then grow with outside support, gaining momentum and changing lives.

Work projects are in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). Over the last five years of work, there are now over 70 students in those three nations going to university thanks to the JWOC Scholarship Program. There are three JWOC Free Schools in Cambodia and Laos that operate six days a week.  There are over 300 wells offering clean water to villagers in the Siem Reap area and in Laos local children now have the resources they need thanks to the JWOC Village School Sponsorship. JWOC has also given out over 200 micro loans to families living below the poverty line.

Volunteers work with specialized programs based on the skills you bring (and your skills need be no more elaborate than a willingness to work…but if you have teaching experience or carpentry skills or medical training, let them know when you sign up), and a nice element of the management of this grassroots organization is that long-term projects are re-evaluated regularly, and monthly priorities are established in response to the shifting terrain of change. This responsiveness is hugely important and surprisingly rare among NGOs.

JWOC was founded under the ideal of See a Problem, Solve a Problem…words to live by.

The Elders

eldersWow do I love this. This auspicious group has been working since 2007, but they are new to me. The Elders is a group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, to offer their influence and wisdom to the process of peace building and to address human suffering. In addition to Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel, Desmond Tutu, and Aung San Suu Kyi are a few others of the elders.The group was gathered and launched by Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel.

There are so few cultures that still revere the wisdom that comes with age, the life spirit and lessons passed down through generations–it’s almost as if we move too quickly and are so desperate to reinvent and improve that we end up re-inventing the wheel instead of building upon the knowledge of those who have gone before us. What a loss.

The Elders focus on international rights issues and take on new challenges as they arise. Their collective plate is currently full with initiatives focused on: the difficult and fraught transition to democracy in Burma; issues based on equality for women and girls and calling for an end to religious and traditional practices that discriminate (perhaps you heard that Jimmy Carter, after 60 years, recently left the Southern Baptist church over their institutionalized repression of women); the humanitarian tragedy in Sudan; the unrest and division on the island of Cyprus; the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe; and the Every Human Has Rights campaign—a wordlwide declaration.

Big, heady issues. Big heads taking them on. When was the last time you reached out to the generation before yours for guidance? Your parents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, family friends, business mentors, or anyone older needn’t be a world leader to have incredible gifts of wisdom that are yours for the asking.

Ask.