Category Archives: General Blog Posts

License to Learn


Over two million Myanmar people are estimated to be living in Thailand. Some are fleeing warfare, others political injustice, but most come seeking opportunity. These economic refugees hope to save money and return home, but it is unclear how long this will take: two years, five years, 15 years, or more? This waiting game has the greatest impact on the children who come with their families. Put to work or left at home to care for younger siblings, there are […]

Off the Beaten Path


First-hand report from Amanda Mowry, Program Manager (Thailand) It’s been more than an hour on the back of a motorcycle in rural Myanmar. The greater the distance between us and Kyaing Tong, one of Shan State’s principal cities, the more the landscape changes. Buildings are replaced by rice fields, and the cement road turns to dirt. Soon, we reach the foot of a mountain and begin our journey up, twisting around gaping fissures made by monsoon storms. Young girls with […]

Hidden in Plain Sight

Group for Children, Research Meeting in Chiang Mai

Along the Thai-Myanmar border is a vast population living without any legal documentation recognizing their citizenship in either country. The reasons are varied and complex. Many people have been displaced by war or environmental or economic crisis. Some ethnic minority communities have lived for generations high in the mountains, unaware of the need for legal documents. Whatever the reason, many – especially children born during decades of mobility – have either lost or failed to ever receive legal documentation, leaving […]

Community Catalyst: Na Lar Bo, Shan State

na lar bo + girls brighter

Outside of Lashio, in Northern Shan State, are hundreds of villages scattered around the mountainous countryside. Conditions in these rural areas are harsh and dangerous, with ongoing, armed conflict between the government and ethnic groups. Our longtime grantee Meikswe Myanmar supports these villages, primarily through locally organized Community Development Committees, who promote programs that benefit the poorest villagers. One of these villages, Lawe Ngue, is a community fractured by the fighting that ravages the region; its people fled when it […]

Community Catalyst: Nay Zar, Thai-Myanmar Border

Kayan Community Development Service (KCDS), Research Meeting in Chiang Mai

Khun Anastasio Nay Zar has been fighting an uphill battle his whole life. Four of his older brothers died during the civil war in the late ‘80s, and his family, despite decades of hard work farming, has remained in poverty in Southern Shan State. He loved school, but his parents couldn’t afford for him to continue into high school – even after selling off many possessions. His help was needed on the farm. This determined young man was not ready […]

Zin Mar: From Prison to Parliament

Imagine being a 22-year-old sentenced to prison for 28 years for “crimes” like publicly reading a poem about political freedom. Imagine being subjected to solitary confinement for nine years, often blindfolded and not allowed to wash or move. Then, 11 years after being imprisoned, imagine being told “Pick your stuff up and go outside”; unceremoniously cast back into the world after so much isolation and cruelty. Zin Mar Aung was released from prison in 2009. Fast forward to February 2016, and […]

Schools in Orchards for Shan Migrants

Hidden in the fruit orchards of Northern Thailand are hundreds of thousands of Shan migrants who have fled violence and abject poverty in Myanmar. Most have entered the country illegally and many have no documentation at all, making them fearful to access social welfare services. Our partner, Group for Children, offers primary and secondary education to over three hundred children and adults, helps secure legal documents such as birth certificates, ID cards, and school diplomas, and assists this migrant community […]

It Takes Everyone: Flood Relief Update

Last August’s floods caused widespread damage that included over 100 lives lost, more than 15,000 homes destroyed and over one million people critically affected by the floods. Chin State was hit the hardest, and its capital Hakka was so devastated by flooding-related landslides that the regional government may be forced to relocate the entire city. Almost immediately, our team in Myanmar leapt into action, raising funds locally and serving as first responders.  At the same time, donors in the U.S. […]

2015 Myanmar Elections: A Vote for Change

      Former project partner Zin Mar (center) will be a member of the incoming Parliament       On November 8th, tens of millions of people in Myanmar enthusiastically exercised their democratic rights by voting in an historic national election. Vastly outperforming expectations, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won an overwhelming electoral victory over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The result was – similar to 1990 – a clear rejection of military rule, and the […]

Rule of Law in Myanmar

One of the biggest challenges of working in Myanmar is the lack of trust created by five decades of military rule, in which the law was used as a weapon of control.  Lawyers often have limited education, and are not respected in a system in which corruption is not just an add-on, but the very oil that makes the wheels turn. Beginning in November 2013, Partners Asia, with support from the Oak Foundation, has been assisting local groups in their […]