Earlier, the CWS Myanmar team shared the story of Village Development Committee leader U Aung, age 56 and single father of four children in Auk Htone where he makes bamboo basket mats and trays to earn a living.
We recounted U Aung’s first experience with CWS back in 2015 when his village and others nearby flooded and CWS gave material support to many families. Later, he volunteered to organize mothers and children for a CWS-led nutrition project. Finally, we shared how, in 2018, U Aung recognized for the first time that development is not only about having physical items like seeds, blankets, water pumps and road pavers – all of which were came to Auk Htone from various CWS-led activities over the years. Rather, he noted: Last year (2018) “when CWS introduced sessions about leadership, development, and project management, I realized that community development is also about changing mindsets and organizing as a group to solve problems. This was a revelation; in the past, I thought that development was only about road, bridge and building construction”.
Thinking back to the earlier nutrition project, U Aung now sees that mothers changed the way they feed their children as well as the quality of the foods they prepare. Mothers learned the importance of balanced meals and saw cooking demonstrations. Yes – mothers received hens, roosters, and seeds from CWS, but changes in feeding and cooking practices, and ingredients, will last long after the hens are gone.
In a recent conversation, U Aung continued, “I learned many positive lessons from a field trip to other villages to see different projects and activities CWS is supporting. In others, I saw that leaders should be active, look out for others, be happy for successes in other villages and involve youth in activities. In those villages I saw models for us”. The learning exchange also reminded U Aung that different villages have common challenges, which they can work on, especially with CWS help, together. Since the field trip, U Aung has invited more young people to work with him and other adults in Auk Htone’s development, especially its road renovations.
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