Ever wondered how CUFA manages to deliver training and development across the Asia Pacific region? The answer is through our committed local team members who understand the communities in which they work, can engender trust, and are best placed to strengthen and sustain local programs.
You can’t get much more local than CUFA program coordinator in Myanmar, Aye Me, who comes from Taik Kyi Province where CUFA’s latest project is centred. The inspirational young achiever only joined CUFA in 2015 and has already inspired half a dozen community investment groups in her patch, including three women’s savings groups.
To get some idea of what the roads are like in the region, it takes around 2.5 hours to travel by bus from Yangon to Taik Kyi Township – a distance of only 70 kilometres – and another 30 minutes to 45 minutes to the villages, often just a few kilometres apart. No wonder Aye Me’s mode of transport is her motorbike – often driven by her caring father. “My father accompanies me most of the time when I travel to communities, because he can drive the motor bike safer than me,” explained Aye Me. “And he loves social work and helping others,” she added.
Like father, like daughter. When asked what brought this remarkable and very busy young mother – she has a four-year-old son – to a career with CUFA, Aye Me freely admits, “I am the type who likes helping others. I found out that the mission of CUFA is to help people out of poverty in the long run. And I am happy to work with community people.
“Their simple smiles make me cheerful and wipe out my tiredness after travelling in the heat and heavy rain.”
“I look forward to the villagers having more financial knowledge so they spend their money wisely.”
The transformational project in Taik Kyi province opened late in 2015, and is a joint CUFA/AFAP (Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific) project. It will give around 3,000 of the most vulnerable people access for the first time ever to affordable financial services.
Aye Me provides financial literacy in the project villages via workshops, seminars and group consultation for the villagers. She explained, “I am currently working for six villages which are AFAP supported – three women-focused villages and three credit union development villages.
“I work with community leaders, authorities, government officials and villagers to develop Self-help Groups.
I collect data of villages for database every month and write reports for every month and quarter.”
Aye Me’s two biggest highlights so far have been her Group Consultation workshops and building trust in the communities in which she works. In particular she loves working with the women’s self-help groups because they are so active. “Currently we have three women’s self-help groups that recently formed a Village Savings Bank committee – there are 271 saving members who now start saving activities,” she enthused.
When she’s not travelling, Aye Me loves spending time with her son and the rest of her family, reading and watching hugely popular Korean drama movies. “Now in this technology age, I use Facebook for networking with friends for charity donations and helping others as much as I can,” she said.
Aye Me’s personal mantra also encapsulates our cooperative philosophy: “The important thing is love. If we love someone, we help, we care, and we share and so on.”
Find out more about CUFA’s work in Myanmar here https://www.cufa.org.au/empowering-women-in-myanmar-2/