An interview conducted by Mary Pham in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar for Paung Ku Forum.
As part of our World Humanitarian Day series the PK Forum talks with a staff member from a Kachin NGO, about solving community problems and the role of international agencies.
Forum: What approach needs to be taken to solving problems in communities you work in?
Kachin people are trying to raise awareness of issues in Kachin State, including the ongoing civil war and the opium trade.
Unfortunately, many Kachin people don’t know how to raise awareness about our issues. Who is primarily using Facebook and the internet? 80% of Kachin people are uneducated people.
Even if they feel strongly about an issue or opinion, they simply cannot speak out. If I could give a rough estimate, only 20% of Kachin people are starting to speak out to the world, but 80% are still quiet.
Forum: Do you feel that your voice is being heard by international organizations?
In my opinion, international organizations still have a lot to improve on when it comes to listening to our voices. They need to listen to Kachin civil society organisation leaders, perhaps create forum to hear voices, even try to meet with KIA/KIO [Kachin Independence Army/Organisation].
Kachin people, as a whole, feel that international leaders are only meeting with Burmese leaders and not with ethnic leaders.
Forum: What do you think of the role of international organisations, what should they focus on to improve society?
If international organizations really stand for humanitarian organizations and human rights, they need to also listen to Kachin issues as well.
I also feel that they need to focus on promoting women’s capacity building. Here, whenever we’re in a meeting it’s just men. Men really don’t know how women feel. They can’t speak on behalf of women as they do not understand our experience.
I believe that in the peace process, women must participate. I strongly believe that at least 50% need to be women in the peace process. International community should shift their focus toward supporting women’s trainings as a first priority.
If I were to give my own assessment, 89% of international NGOs are good. They’re doing a good job of funding internally displaced people. The other 11% side with the government so they can’t fully do activities toward Kachin interests.
Forum: Thanks very much.