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IMPACT HERO 2019

 

Wai Wai Nu

 

Founder, Inclusive Futures Foundation
Myanmar

Wai Wai and all her family were arrested simply because her father was seen being next to Aung San Suu Kyi at the parliament.
Suddenly becoming a political prisoner, she was imprisoned at the age of 18 and ended up in jail for seven long years, completing missing the opportunity to finish college.
During those years in prison, she met and lived with many girls and women who were incarcerated for different reasons, most of which were crimes driven out of social injustice and extreme poverty. Seeing firsthand the challenges and realities of these women, she became convinced to change the country once freed.

 

When she was finally freed at the age of 25, Wai Wai being a Rohingya herself decided to establish an educational institution for ethnic minorities.
She believes that education has the unique power to open doors to freedom, peace and social equality and help build trust between people. Her institution trains the country’s next generation leaders.

Wai Wai’s Story

Educating the next generation leaders for Myanmar’s future

Wai Wai was born as a Rohingya in North Rakhine, Myanmar. As a child, she was proud of being a Rohingya and never experienced discrimination against her own people in her daily life.
However, when she was a university student in 2005, 15 police officers suddenly broke into her house at night to arrest and imprison her entire family.

 

Wai wai was sentenced to penal servitude for 17 years without trial. She was imprisoned in an infamous jail incarcerating 100 people in the same room. No dreams, no hopes, no privacy. She was also shocked to see other women prisoners being forced to live in that terrible environment.
“This is a violation of human rights.” She endlessly read documents on prisoners’ human rights and demanded the prison to comply with human rights and improve living conditions.
Consequently, she became a hero in the prison and “a star of hope” for her women inmates.

 

Wai wai kept listening to the voices of many women with similar situations. The more she listened the more she desired to live in a true democratic country where minorities and women are protected.

 

Her greatest fear in prison was not being able to receive education. She was made well aware of the importance of educational opportunities during her time in prison.
Her release was decided in 2012. After she was acclaimed by women in prison, she received funding from the National Democratic Fund ($ 30,000) and established the Women’s Peace Network (WPN).

However, supporting the most vulnerable women from ethnic minorities was not enough to build peace.
Hence, she established the Yangon Youth Center in 2015 to educate young people who will build the future.

 

She is currently highly demanded as an advocate at the UN and other international conferences.
Moreover she conducts grassroots activities such as peacebuilding and leadership education in Myanmar. She is driving change combining both bottom-up and top-down approaches.

 

Wai wai is a combination of human power, balance, intelligence, leadership and awareness that transcends ethnic divisions. Instead of being trapped in the unimaginable past, she has transformed her experience into self-confidence, strength and a driving force to empower change.

 

Eventhough she is a Rohingya, Burmese people respect her as an activist which is extremely rare.
There are many things that no one except her can do because of the way she is, and she is dedicating her life to her activities with great expectations.

Wai Wai’s Mission in Myanmar

Wai Wai is working on 4 projects based on the vision that Myanmar will be a better country in 10-20 years if the young generations learn true democracy.

 

  1. Yangon Youth Leadership Center: it provides English education and vocational training for women as well as political and leadership education for youths including ethnic minorities and Buddhist Bamar to build peace among ethnic groups.
  2. Peace building activities: she started a peace building movement with young people from 5 ethnic groups with assistance from the US. They conduct regular conversations at an association consisting of more than 130 youth activists and ethnic leaders, and more than 20 peace building NGOs.
  3. Research and reportings regarding human rights of women and ethnic minorities
  4. Education project for 450 girls at the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

 

Since its establishment 4 years ago, more than 2,500 youths from age 16 to 30 have been studying.

At A Glance

IMPACT HERO 2019

Wai Wai Nu

 

Country
Myanmar

 

Organization
Inclusive Futures Foundation

 

Field of Activities
Education for women and ethnic minorities in Myanmar, Human resources development, Human rights protection, Peace building between ethnic groups, and Promotion of social equality

 

The date starting the support
January 1st, 2019

 

The support duration
3 years
Wai Wai’s Mission in Myanmar
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Wai Wai is working on 4 projects based on the vision that Myanmar will be a better country in 10-20 years if the young generations learn true democracy.

 

  1. Yangon Youth Leadership Center: it provides English education and vocational training for women as well as political and leadership education for youths including ethnic minorities and Buddhist Bamar to build peace among ethnic groups.
  2. Peace building activities: she started a peace building movement with young people from 5 ethnic groups with assistance from the US. They conduct regular conversations at an association consisting of more than 130 youth activists and ethnic leaders, and more than 20 peace building NGOs.
  3. Research and reportings regarding human rights of women and ethnic minorities
  4. Education project for 450 girls at the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

 

Since its establishment 4 years ago, more than 2,500 youths from age 16 to 30 have been studying.

At A Glance

IMPACT HERO 2019

Wai Wai Nu

 

Country
Myanmar

 

Organization
Inclusive Futures Foundation

 

Field of Activities
Education for women and ethnic minorities in Myanmar, Human resources development, Human rights protection, Peace building between ethnic groups, and Promotion of social equality

 

The date starting the support
January 1st, 2019

 

The support duration
3 years

What is happening in Myanmar?

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A multiracial nation with 135 minority races and more than 40 languages

Myanmar has 62.42 million of population with 70% Bamar people, and 30% from minority races.
Although there are 135 minority races and more than 40 languages,the official language is Burmese and education is conducted exclusively in Burmese.

 

Students from minority races have to learn in their non-native language, Burmese, in order to get education.
In adition to learning Burmese, studying English is mandatory in colleges to access university. This requirement to learn two other languages besides their mother tongue makes it challenging for people to get higher education.

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More than one million registered refugees
Rohingya, one of the largest refugees community in the world
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The ethnic minorities in Myanmar not only are receiving fewer educational opportunities, but also are often victimized by human trafficking and have been persecuted for a long time.
Rohingya refugee crisis is especially serious today. Rohingya are Muslim ethnic minority living mainly in Rakhine state, the west part of Myanmar.
In Myanmar, where 90% of people are Buddhist, the government does not recognize Rohingya as their citizens.
Therefore Rohingya have no citizenship, and have been suffering from severe discrimination and persecution.

 

In 2017, persecution intensified, triggered by the retaliation of the Myanmar army in response to the attack of Rohingya militants. Since August 2017, more than 700,000 people had escaped to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh after experiencing unimaginable life threatening events such as acts of plundering, rapes, shootings, slaughters, and villages being burnt down.
In January 2018, Bangladesh army documented more than a million refugees.

 

On average, worldwide, refugees who have been displaced once remain refugees for 17 years.
Although UNHCR and many other organizations are still providing support activities, there is a shortage of supplies, the sanitation environment is poor, and education continues to be difficult.

Wai Wai’s Vision

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Her mission is to protect the rights of ethnic minorities in Myanmar including Rakhine State.
Through education and empowerment of young people and women, she wants Myanmar to eventually become a country where all people can enjoy justice, peace, prosperity, and coexist equally.

Earth Company’s Support

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Nowadays, Wai Wai lives in the United States. She is registering NPOs, which will be the parents of various activities she develops in the United States. She is planning to move her base to Myanmar or Asia in the future.
For her international activities, Earth Company will raise funds in the winter of 2019 with the aim of expanding the Yangon Youth Center, organizing support in the refugee camp on the Bangladesh side and Cox’s Bazar.

 

Furthermore, we will provide strategic marketing support, NGO management consulting and leadership coaching to expand Wai Wai’s support network.

Earth Company’s Support

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Nowadays, Wai Wai lives in the United States. She is registering NPOs, which will be the parents of various activities she develops in the United States. She is planning to move her base to Myanmar or Asia in the future.
For her international activities, Earth Company will raise funds in the winter of 2019 with the aim of expanding the Yangon Youth Center, organizing support in the refugee camp on the Bangladesh side and Cox’s Bazar.

 

Furthermore, we will provide strategic marketing support, NGO management consulting and leadership coaching to expand Wai Wai’s support network.

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