One of a Kind
I am in Myanmar this week on what is my twelfth visit to the country. And each of my dozen trips has been unique. Despite what seems to be a visit to an animal husbandry project and a micro-finance operation on every one of those trips, I find each project to be distinctive with subtleties that adopt cultural and contextual realities. This is the extraordinary strength of our partner, the Church of the Province of Myanmar.
Episcopal Relief & Development has been supporting the development initiatives of the Church in Myanmar since 2007. The Church has programmatic activity in all parts of the country, mainly in areas of ethnic minority and tribal populations, the same demographics that also make up the majority of church membership. With a long-term presence in these rural areas, the Church develops programs that not only accompany communities as they climb out of poverty but also speak to the diversity of its residents.
In my various visits to animal husbandry projects, I have seen this diversity. I see a collective spirit where a group of buffalos are gifted to be owned by a cooperative for the shared use of a community. I see enduring character where pigs are distributed to a targeted few in a village with the agreement that the offspring of those initial pigs are then shared with the next phase participants. I see an entrepreneurial quality where chickens are provided to all in a parish and once eggs are hatched there is joint marketing for greater benefit.
The Church’s programs are responsive to local conditions, affording appropriate yet subtle adaptations of standard methodologies. I guess this is what successful development looks like. Without a full understanding of local traditions and contexts, and without tailoring a program to match the resources and assets in a community, real development could never be sustainable.
Nagulan Nesiah is a Program Officer with Episcopal Relief & Development.