Mercy Outreach in Myanmar

Myanmar Community Centre Area

Country context:

Myanmar (Burma) had been closed to the rest of the world for almost 60 years under a repressive military dictatorship. Myanmar opened its doors in 2011. This is a time of great transformation for the country socially, and Mercy Outreach are here to help this process.

Thousands of people live day-to-day in desperate poverty without access to clean, drinkable water, good nutritious food, or an education. It is estimated that 35% of children suffer from stunting, and their bodies will never develop fully due to under-nourishment. Where such poverty reigns, young girls are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking.

Community Centres

We work in the poorest areas of Yangon, opening community centres. In these slum areas there is no access to safe drinking water and the majority of parents survive by selling vegetables at the market, a day-to-day existence. Many children, as young as 5 or 6 often have to care for younger siblings or neighbours children and are often forced to work. They are unable to attend school, which means that their future is impacted greatly. Lack of education means a lack of opportunity to find or keep work and jobs which would be available to the uneducated are often very poorly paid and dirty or dangerous. In our community centres, we create programmes which explore creativity and problem solving as well as assisting with standard basic education. Our programmes are constantly evolving as we learn of the most pressing needs of the communities that we work in.

Women in Myanmar

Women are the caregivers here in Myanmar. Quite often they have to look after siblings and extended family from a very young age. They are more likely to miss or drop out of school and therefore future plans for employment are limited.

Since women are taking care of the family needs, they are usually unable to go to work, but if they are able, then the type of work available in these slum areas is very low paid and sometimes dangerous. Small businesses like selling vegetables in the market can only provide a small amount of money into the household. In Yangon, rainy season lasts for six months or longer and so selling in the market, sitting on the floor, is not a desirable job. Other work for women is to work in a factory, sewing. The hours are long and low paid. More of these types of jobs attract village people to the city, adding to the slums and the poor conditions as more factories from China and the West move in to produce low cost clothing.

We have a growing women’s programme, at focusses on the women of the community. These women are the community changers. They can improve the health and the income of the family if they have access to the right health education, anti-trafficking awareness and money and budgeting education. The women’s groups provide a good peer support group and there is a good deal of focussing on discussions and problem solving, empowering the women to come up with solutions to their own community contextual issues.

Our programmes include:

  • After school / homework help program for 500 children
  • Sewing education for around 200 women yearly
  • Women’s groups
  • Sunday Service and Cell groups
  • Family preservation
  • Trafficking awareness
  • Football anti-gang culture program
  • Clean water programs
  • Nutritious meals – we are able to provide a nutritious meals of fortified rice five times a week at the community centres through Rice Runners and other donations.
  • Child Eating Porridge Myanmar

    Community Centres

    Blue Community Centre
    Blue House Teenagers
    Orange Community Centre
    Orange Community Centre Sewing Graduates
    Green Community Centre
    Green House Presentation Meeting
    Purple Community Centre
    Purple House Christmas Ladies
    Red Community Centre
    Red House Childrens Education Programme
    Pink Community Centre
    Pink House Children

    The Local NGO

    Our local NGO is the vehicle for our social outreach. The local NGO has been set up by Soren together with local Myanmar colleagues. We are raising up leaders among the staff who have vision and passion to reach out to the poor in their country. Most of the projects that we run are a result of the ideas and dreams of the Myanmar staff.
    A child’s education is one of the major factors in a child’s future. Providing a safe play area, teaching in a creative way through song, game playing and art helps children to think creatively. After school tuition helps those who struggle in class, to work toward passing end of year exams. Summer school teaching gives a safe place to learn and to improve in their education before returning to the state school in the new term.

    We have a number of projects that we dream of starting when the funding becomes available.