Archive for Category: Spotlight Series
Grassroots-oriented leader and community mobilizer Sai Sam Phoon Seng played an important role in the most recent election campaign for Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, where he serves as its International Secretary. Sai Sam is also a 2015 DeBoer Fellow and has been deeply invested in his communities for years. The following is an excerpt from our interview with him.
Sai Sam Phoon Seng
DeBoer Fellowship (DF) staff: Why are you in this field of work?
Sai Sam: I was born into a family that inspired me to be intrigued in politics and political work that benefits the community.
Naw Paw Gaw: Leading from the heart; serving with humility
We had the great opportunity to talk with DeBoer Lifelong Fellow, Naw Paw Gaw ’14 about the work she does and the values which guide her efforts. Read our interview with her below.
DeBoer Fellowship (DF) staff: “Why are you in this field of work?”
Naw Paw Gaw: “I believe I was chosen by God to work for women’s empowerment. I have focused all my concern, my choices and my life for this work. I’m interested in responding to the challenges faced by marginalized women in grassroots level and women leaders in the rural areas.
Sometimes leaders are selected; in other cases, leaders are called.
When you feel you are called to do something, it is simply very difficult to turn the other way around, no matter how good that other opportunity is. Michael Suantak felt this calling when he decided to leave a position in an international organization in Yangon. He returned to the hills of Chin State to build a community wireless network as an alternative communication platform, connecting more than 20 jungle villages over the hills in Chin State in Northwestern Myanmar.
When asked what motivated her to do the work she does, Dr. May Zaw Naing says: “My parents set the example for us to do whatever we do based on our personal values and to put the wellbeing of others first. They taught me that our efforts will determine outcomes we achieve. They always encouraged me to reflect on my experience and taught me that how I did things would determine how I lived my life.”
Dispelling the Stigma Around Mental Illness
In her line of work, Dr. May Zaw Naing is leading a number of efforts to dispel the stigma around mental illnesses in Myanmar all while collaborating with local and international partners on policy reform.
Aung Kyaw Swar: passionate educator, environmentalist and development practitioner
I passionately believe that education is the crucial area to nurture someone. Understanding on education varies from academic knowledge to the art of living life. I believe good education produces responsible citizens who can enhance peace and harmony within their own community by respecting others’ cultures, religions, identities, and natural environment while conserving and promoting his/her own.
EDUCATION AND VISION
Education is not only about one’s ability, but one’s mindset and skillset to live and enjoy a meaningful life.