Karenni State is the smallest, least accessible and poorest of the 14 ethnic states in Myanmar. For many years, government forces conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Karenni and other minority people groups. Ceasefires signed in 2012, and nationwide in 2015, are potentially still fragile.
Fifty years of conflict and neglect has left the region lacking in basic infrastructure, with poor transport and communication links, inadequate health care, widespread illiteracy and little or no social and economic development. Access to clean water is poor.
Malnutrition and treatable illnesses cause a high mortality rate. The number of schools, teachers and students is the lowest in Myanmar.
The Karenni people had to live with murder, rape, violence and destruction of property. Forced from their land, many escaped to live in refugee camps deep in the jungle on the Myanmar/Thailand border.
Global Care began supporting children and young people living within the camps, including three orphanages and schools, in the 1990s.
With the cessation of hostilities within Karenni state itself, our focus has shifted to support initiatives providing education to children living in District Two – an area previously designated a ‘free-fire zone’ by the army – impunity to shoot on sight!
Global Care is supporting one of the only high schools in this rural area. This allows young people who want to continue past primary education, but do not want to leave the area for one of the bigger towns, to stay in the district. A key part of our support has been to provide a small computer facility, providing a valuable window onto the wider world. A number of high school students still live too far away to be able to travel home daily, and we are supporting these students in boarding houses near the school, with food, clothes and toiletries. We are also supporting students whose families cannot afford to feed them adequately if they continue their studies. Finally, we are also supporting teachers at a number of village primary schools, supplementing their meagre income with “helps” in the form of cash or rice.
We are committed to continue our support for these disadvantaged Karenni communities, and applaud their determination to enable their children to access education, however difficult the circumstances.