Volunteering with Women in Myanmar
Volunteering in Asia gives you the chance to see other cultures and people while having a meaningful and positive impact of the people of disadvantaged communities. Throughout the continent there are countless chances to make a difference. Whether it is working with children at orphanages, helping out at local hospitals, or teaching at schools, volunteers can see new and exciting people and places while helping these communities in more ways that you can imagine.
Volunteering in Myanmar gives volunteers a unique perspective into a deep and mysterious culture. For many years Myanmar has been relatively closed off to outside influence. However, in recent years the strict military government has been relinquishing control over many parts of the culture and society, allowing outsiders to not only visit but also to work and volunteer within the country. Because of this, volunteers who choose to work in Myanmar get an experience unlike any other in Asia.
There is no shortage of ways to help less fortunate people in Myanmar. The country is relatively poor and volunteers will be in direct contact with communities that have little community services. Some choose to teach or help out at orphanages. Others can make a difference by helping women who have had struggles in their own community. Women empowerment projects are a great way to interact with locals while helping serve women who need a helping hand.
Working with Women in Myanmar
While in Myanmar, volunteers are surrounded by new people and cultures. Working within a community is a great way to enrich the lives of people who truly need it. Working with women in the country gives volunteers a chance to see what challenges women of Myanmar face as well as an opportunity to be a great help to women in the community.
Women in Myanmar have all the same rights and privileges that men do for the most part but there are still many cultural gender roles that women and men stick to. Generally, women are the ones who take care of children, prepare meals, and maintain the household while men work out in the work force. Some women however have seen and endured hardships and must work long hous to support their children. Working in women’s empowerment projects lets volunteers ease the load for some of these women. As in the west, single mother’s must work extremely hard to keep their families going. Working in homes for single mothers lets volunteers assist with whatever it is that needs to be done such as playing with the kids while mother is working, helping cook food, or doing laundry for example. Each day may be a little different but even helping mothers with small task goes a long way.
Women’s empowerment projects also allow women to develop skills that will help the get a job and earn a living. Many women in Myanmar are from rural areas and belong to ethnic minorities that may be overlooked by the government or social services. The impact of giving women the opportunity to better their own lives as well as their family’s lives cannot be overstated. Volunteers who help disadvantaged women enrich their own lives may not get to see the full fruits of their labor. Volunteers can usually commit three or four weeks to a project. This amount of time may not seem like a lot but it’s important to know that your impact on people’s lives will linger on long after you have returned home.
Depending on what kind of project volunteers choose to be a part of gives each volunteer a unique perspective into different aspects of life in Myanmar. Helping out with women’s empowerment projects comes with its own set of challenges. Because of the country’s history many women have been marginalized because of their ethnicity. Myanmar is home to over 150 different ethnic groups. Working in these marginalized communities may e difficult for some because you will be working with people who have suffered greatly in the past. The women you work with may have suffered sexual abuses or abandonment. While it may be hard to see, volunteers who do work with these women are providing positive relationships to someone who may have not had many in their lives. Volunteers can be assured of one thing: each interaction is helpful in giving women in disadvantaged communities a chance at a better life.
Working with poor communities can be a trying experience and volunteers patience may be put to the test. Living in rural and poor communities in Myanmar can be hard for some. Most communities lack modern infrastructure and comforts. Volunteers here must be able to live and work in conditions unlike their own. Being able to go with the flow and graciously accept what is given to you is what makes a good volunteer. People in these communities have very little compared to us but you will be amazed at how generous they can be. But to volunteer in rural communities in Myanmar takes a special kind of volunteer, one who can live with less than what they are used to.
Despite the challenges that come with volunteering in Myanmar volunteers are rewarded in countless ways. Working to enrich the lives of women gives you a great sense of accomplishment. In and country without much talk of women’s rights or feminism, many women here simply don’t have the kinds of opportunities that we enjoy back home. Being a part of projects that seeks to enrich the lives of women and give them chances they may not otherwise have is very rewarding.
These experiences of working with local women in Myanmar are something that everyone involved will take to heart. Locals see you come all the way from over seas to their country just to lend a helping hand. Seeing this helps locals see that people in other countries can be helpful, loving, and caring people. Volunteers see a culture and people different from their own but at the same time see all the similarities we share. This realization that we as humans have more in common with each other than what makes us different is one of the best rewards of volunteering in Myanmar. Making meaningful connections with people outside of your own culture is something you will take home with you. Experiences like these are not easily forgotten and volunteers take them home with them at the end of their projects. While serving women in poor communities in Myanmar you will make memories that stay with you for a lifetime.