This story tells U Aung Myint’s journey, on which CWS has accompanied him since we met him in 2015 when his village, Auk Htone, was flooded and CWS gave material support to families who needed help. Since then, when we first met U Aung, he has been an active community member. He has been the Village Development Committee leader for about a year now.
In his family life U Aung produces bamboo baskets, mats and trays. When he is not working at the family business, U Aung has volunteered to organize mothers and children for a CWS-led nutrition project. This might seem an unusual thing for a man, but U Aung has four children, so the interest was natural for him. Recently, when some CWS team members were talking with him about his role in Auk Htone, U Aung shared his insight, which many of his neighbors may not have.
Development, he wisely noted, is not only about having material things like blankets, water pumps, seeds and road pavers. He is grateful for all such items that comprised CWS-supported relief, recovery and development activities in the village. But, he continued, “Last year CWS introduced us to an opportunity to learn about consultative leadership, participatory community development and shared project management. I then realized that community development is greatly about changing mindsets and organizing as a group to solve problems. This is a revelation; in the past I thought of development being about roads, bridges and building”. Now, clearly, U Aung has a different view, which makes him a great community leader and CWS partner.
Thinking back to his role in the nutrition project, U Aung now sees that mothers have changed their behavior. They changed not only the foods they prepared for their young children, but also the ways they cook them. As mothers learned the importance of clean cooking spaces and balanced meals during cooking demonstrations, they changed. Yes, they received hens, roosters and seeds from CWS to support the improvement of their children’s diets. But the changes in cooking and food choice will last long after the hens are gone.
CWS is the only international organization working in Auk Htone, and U Aung pointed out that our impact has been meaningful. He credits his leadership role and CWS partnership for expanding his thinking about what it takes to build a better village.
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