Myanmar Leadership Institute (MLI), Kamayut Township Yangon
The month of April2020 saw MLI having a summer break in the midst of lockdown, curfewsandvarious necessary preventative measuresof COVID-19 mandated by the Myanmar Government through the Ministry of Health and Sport (MOHS). Our previous plans and timetable have to be on hold due to the given situation of the global pandemic whichinclude the time commencement of the Fourth Quarter and the Leadership at the Cross-Road programs which is due on May 4th. The visit of some faculty from Ateneo De Manila University to teach compulsory subjects required in the fourth quarter also needed to be postponed until a later date.
While these measures required us to mandatorily stay and work at home, we were still able to reach out to the world beyond our confined places. Thanks to the world of technology that does magic, we are enabled to keepthe flow of communication and to continue ourteaching and learning process. Our MLI Marketing and Communication team have planned to work on a regular e-newsletter and the first edition has just been successfully circulated among the MLI past and current students, faculty, visiting professors, partners and friends of MLI.
It is heartening to hear of the creativity and resilience of people in responding to the ongoing crisis which resulted from the global pandemic. Here are some of the online correspondences we had during the summer breakand which we wish to share with you.
From Min NyanShwe, MLI student: He shared about the humbling experience when he worked and led the community in his native village of Kwanhlar, Mudon township, Mon State at the event of a huge surge of migrants returning from Thailand and neighboring countries to his village. There was a high level of stress, fear and anxiety in his village community which requiredstrategic, practical yet emphatic responses. “...I am working on making sure that communities have access to the correct information on COVID-19 from WHO and give people updated situation reports.I also lead to form a committee in my community to give awareness to the community using WHO guidelines such as keeping socialdistance, washing hands properly, wearing surgical mask should they go outside,not stereotyping to foreign returnees, and monitoringthe community wellbeing. If someone has the symptoms of COVID-19, we advise them to meet the doctor for medical checkups. We worked together with the police to check people’s travel history who have a pass to our place. While over 38 confirmed cases have increased on 11 April 2020, I have volunteered to prepare emergency response such as a facility for the community quarantine process including supporting a medical check-up for foreign returnee and host community people, Psycho treatment support such as phone call, providing TV comedy channel arranged accommodation and food together withthe health department and community leader. I have been working on preparing social distance plans for community market, clinic, and social event consulting with the villageadministrator, youth group,women network, and religious leaders.Moreover, I help the village administrator to deliver food to jobless people, elders, and the monastery (Buddhist temple) during the Myanmar New Year holiday from 11- 17 April. Then, I worked with village administrator, shop keeper, seller to manage goods and products flowing in the community market to mitigate risk in manipulating market prices. I also work with local women networks giving awareness to prevent domestic violence for community homestay.”
Min NyanShwe and his team of community service in Mon State
From Gillian and Stefano in Scotland: ”....All our lives have been disrupted by coronavirus. It has brought enormous grief to families across the world. The pandemic has had a devastating effect in the UK, where over 20,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the emergency is far from over. Many now criticize the UK government for serious delays in reacting to the emergency during February and March, which led to many more people becoming infected.
Since 23rd March there has been a strict lockdown. All schools, businesses, churches, sports arenas, cinemas, shops and restaurants are closed. We can leave home for one hour a day to exercise or buy food but must stay at least two metres away from anyone we meet in the street or supermarket. Nobody knows yet when the restrictions will be lifted.
The pandemic is teaching us all important lessons, and despite the sadness and fear, many positive things are happening. We are learning to appreciate simple things again and realising how many things we took for granted, like hugs and celebrations with friends, visits to friends’ houses, going out to eat a meal. Here in UK, the nurses and doctors, street cleaners, supermarket workers, teachers and those who care for the elderly and vulnerable have become the new heroes. We hope that these lessons remain in people’s hearts and minds when the crisis is over.
All school children here are following school lessons online, using Google Classroom or Zoom, and many excellent free resources have been produced. Parents have started to realise that being a teacher is not so easy!
By the way, for interested teachers, here are some good online resources for students to use at home:
We are glad to be busy and very connected with MJM during this time. Gill has regular meetings with Fr Mark, FrPuspo and Thomas Wolf via Zoom, and continues to work on development and fundraising. Stefano spends each day teaching Italian to the Myanmar sisters whose plans to travel to Italy were postponed. From Pathein, Loikaw and Yangon they enjoy their Skype Italian language lessons.
We follow news from Myanmar every day and love hearing news of how MJM members are bringing hope amidst the fear.”
Stefano teaches Sr Marta SFX, who is based in Pathein.
Daily walks on empty roads!
Dr Edna Franco wrote that the final step of the process for Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) to officially confer the Diploma jointly with MLI has been completed and the Diploma in Leadership Development has been eventually approved by the ADMU Curriculum Committee. We rejoice in this remarkable achievement which encourages our deeper commitment in giving service to the people of Myanmar through the quality leadership and development programs.
From the Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL): We, onsite facilitators have had aseries of Zoom meetings with JWL management team, academic staff, online tutors and onsite facilitators worldwide on matters particular to the Peace Leader Course evaluation and the possibility of running an academic online course in Sustainable and Development at MLI. We were introduced to Dr Isabella Rega, the new Global Research Director at JWL who invited local facilitators to participate in the research endeavor as to understand better the educational model and the transformative impact of courses within JWL on individuals and respective communities. As part of the research efforts of this year, the focus will be on onsite learning facilitators as akey part of the learning experience of our students. DrRega has been working closely with some JWL facilitators through online interviews and participatory workshops, either virtual or onsite on specific learning and supervision. As a response to the pandemic, an open, fun and interactive self-study called “COVID-19 Crash course” has been created in partnership between JWL, Medical Mission Institute Wuerzburg and Seitwerk.The course aims at helping people learn the facts and assess the knowledge connecting to the global pandemic.The link can be accessed at: https://sis.jwl.global/apply/corona
On another newsy note, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Myanmar Jesuit Mission and JWL was officially signed on 26 March 2020.
We give God thanksfor the manygood things yet happening within and around us amidst the seemingly bleak situation resulting from the global pandemic. The resurrection of Jesus whom we celebrated at Easter has now called us to really value our precious given lives and to witness a life of peace, hope and of servicewherever we may be.