Students from Kayah State, Myanmar and from the refugee camp in Mae Hong Son, Thailand recently joined an online youth exchange forum on World Refugee Day and shared actions that they can do towards caring for the environment.
The online activity was organized by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)-Myanmar in collaboration with Karenni National College (KnNC) in Mae Hong Son, Thailand and with Level Up Academy (LUA) and Seh Teh Learning Center (STLC) in Kayah State, Myanmar.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many aspects of their lives as in other countries, these youth across the border also shared their experiences, their feelings, and how they were coping with the COVID-19 situation.
Invited speakers from the Wildlife Conservation Services-Myanmar and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) Birdlife Myanmar joined the forum and shared what biodiversity is, ecosystem services, socio-environmental challenges and their linkages, and how people can make a difference in nature-based solutions for socio-environmental challenges in a new normal situation.
Although there were some technical difficulties (electricity and Internet connection interruptions), the forum continued. Participants discussed the actions they could do at individual, family, and school levels in showing care for the environment.
At the beginning of the forum, a minute of silence was observed to commemorate World Refugee Day with a short video clip of the UN chief’s message on World Refugee Day shown. It was then followed by a short video, From Battlefields to Refuge: Introducing the Salween Peace Park, an indigenous Karen landscape conservation initiative that won an Equator Prize 2020 as one of 10 communities honored for local, innovative, and nature-based solutions.
Another forum followed, this time among teachers from KnNC, LUA, and STLC. And with the two cross-border forums, both students and teachers developed the following action plan:
JRS-Myanmar approached organizations which work on environmental conservation in Myanmar, and immediately BANCA-Myanmar committed to support the three schools throughout the process in developing locally appropriate curriculum on environmental education and conservation.
Rosalyn is the Country Director for JRS-Myanmar and can be reached through her email: email@example.com.