The empowering quality of education underpins our work and provides the main vehicle through which we support people in breaking out of poverty cycles through a new life of sustainable and fulfilling achievements. We do this through community development education (CDE), which is about engaging with people in Myanmar who experience poverty, vulnerability and marginalisation via a detailed training program that equips and empowers local communities to take ownership of their resources at a grassroots level. It is a 'bottom up' approach that is contrary to the traditional model of giving hand-outs and resources from a 'top down' or charity mentality that is not sustainable and, ultimately, locks people into a poverty cycle.
GraceWorks Myanmar's (GWM) CDE program is highly participatory, founded on the principles of asset-based community development (ABCD). It releases trained facilitators into poor communities to encourage community-led development processes. Through its integrated, holistic approach, communities plan and implement culturally appropriate, locally driven projects with the flexibility to span any sector. Importantly, those projects are based on community priorities, built around local assets and resources, rather than being dependent on outside support (often foreign support). They also go beyond infrastructure and service provision to include projects that strengthen social capital.
CDE is designed to rebuild hope and entrepreneurial imagination, empowering communities to overcome poverty, disease and marginalisation by mobilising their innate potential, resources and relationships. In this way, CDE helps people envision and implement positive changes in their communities. In many cases, this foundational work enables the creation of new community-based organisations (CBOs). Our work in CDE follows six broad stages:
Including and beyond our CDE work, GWM is providing and enabling education and training in areas such as:
Community development education – through our facilitator training
Peacebuilding – linked to our CDE facilitator training
Specialist maternal health care – through our qualified Australian-trained sonographer
Health care work – through our partnership with a local training school offering a six-month course for health care workers in basic medical principles and how to deliver a baby
Community water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) solutions – through our partnership with the Canadian-based Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology.