The Epiphany Trust has been funding projects in Burma since 2001. These range from establishing a fish farm to sending emergency aid in response to cyclone Nargis, but mainly in providing education; both for children of displaced families inside the Karen State, and those of migrant workers who have fled over the border into the Thai town of Mae Sot.
For more than 60 years, civil war and government mismanagement & oppression has left generations of Karen children without the chance of an education and the related hope that it can bring. Communities fight a constant battle for survival, struggling to make a living from the land while perpetually at risk of being attacked by the Burmese army. In such instances livestock can be slaughtered, food supplies stolen and buildings burned. According to many international organisations, including a recent study published by Harvard Law School, the Burmese Army are also guilty of many war crimes, including rape and summary executions. 2012 saw Burma ‘opening up’ and the promise of reform, but Burma’s elected president Aung San Suu Kyi and Barack Obama are amongst those who believe reforms have stalled and the international community may have been “overly optimistic”. The political situation remains oppressive and human rights abuses continue.
Against this backdrop it is our belief that literacy and numeracy is one of the few ways in which we can equip and empower the next generation. It creates hope, can’t be stolen or destroyed, and empowers change through communication, and through political and legal means. It helps increase agricultural productivity, it helps farmers gain title of their land, to deal with lines of credit, and particularly benefits women in raising their community status; who then in turn have higher health, educational and career aspirations for their own children.
Inheriting the fantastic work done by the now disbanded Metta Trust for Children’s Education, Epiphany has worked in partnership with two local organisations, the Karen Education Department (KED) and the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC), to improve the life chances of many hundreds of children.
We fully fund eight schools inside Burma through the KED and support the administrative expenses of BMWEC, which manages 25 schools for the children of migrant workers.