Mingalaba! Greetings from Hal Nathan, founder of Foundation for the People of Burma and Chairman of Partners Asia
What an extraordinary year for Burma – Myanmar — and for us! Opportunities created by the country’s rapid reforms inspired us to form a nimble new nonprofit: Partners Asia. Partners Asia continues the longtime mission of Foundation for the People of Burma, strengthening civil society through community-led education, development and access to health care for those most in need.
At the heart of Partners Asia? Impoverished ethnic minorities; youth — especially girls — vulnerable to labor exploitation; and migrants displaced by conflict and land grabbing. They are our strength — and Myanmar-Burma’s future. I am leading Partners Asia along with Executive Director Therese Caouette, who has 30 years experience in Southeast Asia mobilizing a global network to train and support refugees and migrants in disrupted, isolated communities.
Thanks to your steadfast support providing funds for resources and training, the innovative indigenous leaders we’ve partnered with over the years are now on the leading edge to guide their communities through the current social and political flux. Opportunities and risks vary greatly between fast-thawing cities, tense rural ethnic areas, and migrant worker enclaves straddling the border. Our local partners tailor local solutions to fit local needs — training teachers in urban slums; piping water to displaced villagers; providing safe shelter and counseling for trafficked women and girls; organizing job training and savings circles to bolster independence.
We admire our courageous local partners’ hard work and ingenuity. And we are deeply grateful to all of you in our global network of generous friends, foundations and organizations.
We believe the people of Burma – Myanmar are and should be the drivers of change in their own communities, so we remain committed to limiting the size of our international staff. Our small international team includes Zunetta Herbert, an advisor to the United Nations, governments and international nongovernmental organizations on Myanmar-Burma issues for more than two decades; Paula Bock, a longtime Mae Tao Clinic volunteer who has more than 20 years professional experience as an award-winning journalist and nonprofit communications and development specialist; and a notable Board of Directors including Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America, Jane Dudley, Eileen Moncoeur, U Tin-Wa and Pwint Htun.
Finally, a word about names. We’ll start using Myanmar more often in keeping with the times and political sensitivities, but this does not change our focus on the diverse and often excluded ethnic minority populations. Also, please note: We’re no longer Community Partners International (CPI). Our new name is Partners Asia.
Please explore our new website — and read about us on NPR’s global health and poverty blog.
Deepest bows for your caring and spirit.