Welcomed with ceremony
As a World Vision sponsor, I was aware that World Vision is one of the longest serving international non-governmental organisations in Australia, but it wasn’t until I visited the field as CEO of World Vision Australia that I truly grasped just how profoundly transformational our work is for so many people and their communities.
My trip to Myanmar, formally known as Burma, was the perfect induction to the World Vision way of working: the effort and resources we pour into building the trust, skills and resilience of individuals and their communities, empowering them to be the change makers that can transform their lives and those of others.
Our first stop was to the community of Loikaw, where we have been working for the past seven years. Visiting a rice mill funded by our Australian supporters, it was great to see how the new mill enables the community to process better quality rice more cheaply both for their own consumption and to sell for more profit. A community-based organisation which we helped establish supports the mill. They have organised the community to provide the labour to run it and land and building to house it. The Loikaw community-based organisation is now investing funds generated by the mill back into community health and education, as well as making small loans available.
Everywhere I went we were welcomed with great ceremony – people went to a lot of trouble to welcome and express their appreciation for the difference our work had made to their lives.
Meeting with the farmers at a nearby seed bank, I discovered that thanks to the generous support of so many Australians their bank has 1,500 deposits – enough to cover a disaster and for farmers to draw upon at the beginning of each season to start their crops. The bank’s seed stock is maintained by the farmers themselves who redeposit seeds with the bank at harvest time.
In the same community, a child-care centre funded with Australian Aid allows parents, especially mothers, to farm during the day while their children are fed nutritious meals and begin their education. Very few of the children in this area attend high school as there just isn't a senior school nearby – they can't get to school without walking or biking a long way. That is changing as the government builds more schools.