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The context

Sources: Human Development Report 2014

Myanmar has an estimated population of 51.4 million, consisting of diverse ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages and dialects. It is ranked 150 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Economic growth has averaged 5 percent in recent years with a per capita income of USD$702.

Myanmar is at an historic stage in its development and is pursuing a reform agenda. Following the coming into effect of a new Constitution in May, 2008, elections and by elections were held in November 2010 and in April 2012 respectively. Parliament and governments have been formed at the national and region/state levels. The President has set out a reform agenda focusing on good governance and ensuring fundamental rights. A number of reforms have already been undertaken in the financial sector, in relaxing media censorship, release of detainees and reaching ceasefire agreements in a number of conflict areas. These reforms are seen as positive steps, which have led to increasing engagement with the international community.

The Challenge

Sources: Human Development Report 2014

Myanmar’s economy largely depends on natural resources and agriculture. Inadequate infrastructure, limited “know-how” and administrative constraints have stifled the manufacturing sector.

The long-term chronic poverty has destroyed the social structure and the country’s infrastructure, thus increasing unemployment and the number of limited jobs. This context fosters poverty and unsafe migration, driving a massive share of the young generation into informal labour markets in neighbouring countries. There, they usually take up menial jobs and are very exposed to the risks of abuse and exploitation, women and girls in particular.

Poverty levels are at an estimated 26% of the population (Human Development Report 2014). Poverty is twice as high in rural areas where 70% of the population lives. The remote border areas, mainly populated by Myanmar’s minority ethnic groups, and areas emerging from conflict are particularly poor.

Access to electricity is limited to only 26 percent of the population and firewood is a major source of energy for the population.

The country is highly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events, such as the devastating Cyclone Nargis of 2008. This heightens the risks and vulnerabilities for the rural poor, and particularly women and children and other vulnerable groups, a challenge for which local communities are still unprepared.

 

Our areas of focus

In Myanmar, FXB has developed since 1992, programs for vocational education, professional social entrepreneurship training and income generating activities (IGA), thus contributing to the local economic growth and development.

In a global approach, areas of the programs promote women empowerment and gender equality, prevention campaigns on HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and human trafficking.

The association undertook emergency and reconstruction operations in flood- and disaster-hit areas.

FXB is also very active in the health sector: it has also provided health care and psychosocial support to vulnerable people and enables access to antiretroviral medicines. Through self-help groups across the country, FXB offer psychological support to people living with HIV/AIDS and their impacted families.

FXB partners with the UN agencies, the Global Fund, private donors and local community-based organizations.

Currently, FXB leads 3 main programs in Myanmar:

Vocational Training and Life skills aimed to young people at Risk

The objective of this program is to bring education opportunity and self-sufficiency skills to young people at risk for HIV and human trafficking. FXB offers professional training to around 250 young people every year. The training allows each of them to acquire the needed skills to get a job in a factory or a workshop, or to open their own workshop. A large majority of participants are young women. Outreach activities and awareness campaigns also reach 750 community members directly every year through the following channels:

  • The Shwe Pyi Thar FXB Professional Training Centre is located one hour and a half of Yangon. The peri-urban area of Yangon is easily accessible by the poor, marginalized, landless and forgotten population from the other outskirt areas of the cities. Most of them are migrants or displaced persons from the Dry Zone or from conflicted areas as a result of ethnic tensions. These communities are also known for domestic violence towards women, gender inequality due to social norms, and above all lack of education and professional training opportunities. FXB serves 80 apprentices (7% are boys), offering them various training courses – lasting from 6 to 24 months – in dress making, interior design, manual weaving, wood and metal work.
  • FXB has also developed a tailored made “mobile” professional training course. It reaches young people, mainly girls, living in the most remote regions, which do not have access to any of these kinds of services. If the budget allows, the girls receive their own sewing machine.
  • Besides the professional training itself, these young people also benefit from various courses to enhance their personal skills. These include informal education, prevention of human trafficking and violence towards women, prevention of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis, reproductive health and promotion of women’s rights and gender equality, hygiene, water and decontamination, nutritional support, and first aid.
  • In addition, 30 local children are enrolled in an informal education program at the FXB Centre of Shwe Pyi Thar so that they can return to school and literacy classes are offered to street children.

Health Care

In partnership with the UNFPA and the Global Fund, FXB’s programs for psychosocial support and access to reproductive health services and antiretroviral medicines serve more than 7,000 people throughout the country. FXB also organizes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaigns. It has provided essential assistance to the country for more than 23 years. FXB provides two types of health services in the four States and Region. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religious status, social class, education background, income, races, people who require health assistance from FXB Myanmar can benefit from:

  • Treatment Care: FXB Myanmar provides four types of health care services comprised of traditional institutional based services (the government hospitals), community based mobile teams (medical teams by cars), community based home based care, and peer to peer counseling.
  • Sunday Empowerment Group: In order to build a social network among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and their impacted family members, FXB welcomes every Sunday 300 people in several groups. In addition to providing medical follow up, FXB teaches the groups of anti-stress therapies, including through song (karaoke) and games. They organize training courses on various topics, such as nutrition, discrimination, health and how to preserve it, reproductive health, self-help or personal development. The objective is to provide a safe space – a psychological shelter – to the participants and their families. Specific sessions are held simultaneously for their children.

Livelihood for Women

To restore dignity and confidence, FXB provides livelihood to vulnerable women, so that they can find the ways and means to meet their needs and those of their families. In Shwe Pyi Thar as well as in Than Layin Township and Twane Tay Township in the Yangon Region and in Mawlamyine in the Mon State – in partnership with UNFPA – FXB is developing an empowerment program through income generating activities (IGA) for 1,200 people in the areas of agriculture, livestock, grocery and small-scale food service, garment making and fishing.

In addition, participating women are offered psychosocial support and various courses on social topics – including gender equality, domestic violence and human trafficking, on health topics – including reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, hygiene, water and decontamination, and on economic topics – including financial management and micro loans in “Women Friendly Spaces”. These spaces contribute to create a caring and mutual-help network between women, which improves the life of the whole community.

In Yangon, tapestries, curtains, furniture, clothes and toys for tourists, expats, hotels and other local businesses are sold in the FXB Showroom. These high-quality hand-made items are manufactured by former apprentices who actively participate in the management and decision-making of this small business. The income is sufficient to cover the salaries of the workers as well as the cost for the materials. It also provides a small allowance for the apprentices in the various locations where FXB offers its professional training programs.

 Our future plans

    • Introduce the FXBVillage model
    • Continue and expand of the FXB professional vocational training programs currently on offer
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