Community based organizations (CBOs) on the Thai-Myanmar border have difficulty finding skilled local staff which makes it a challenge to successfully carry out activities. They require dedicated, energetic staff that can implement plans, document and report on activities, and raise support and funds for their work. At the same time talented young adults from these same communities have limited access to higher level education where they can develop the relevant skills to access employment, including working for these CBOs.
Supported by the USAID-funded Project for Local Empowerment (PLE) education partner Wide Horizons Community Development Program annually trains young adult staff in advanced community development, English language and computer skills. Their customized curriculum, based on feedback and research gained through needs assessments with CBOs equips graduates with the tools and experience they need to implement carefully planned, participatory, sustainable community development projects. After ten months of training, the students are placed with host organizations for a one year internship, where they get the chance to apply these skills in their own communities. Upon completion of the internship, youth are often hired by their respective organization or have gone on to work for community organizations working in the fields of education, health, and governance. More than 200 youth have graduated Wide Horizons and the majority of the have gone on to work in the community development sector. Wide Horizons graduate Phyo Wai Lin is an exemplar of this. He served his internship at the Myanmar Literacy Resource Centre (MLRC) where is now working in a key role as their Central Project Coordinator. Through his work, Phyo is contributing to education reform in Burma. MLRC advocates to the Government of Burma for the support of Non Formal Primary Education (NFPE) in underserved communities in Thailand and Burma. NFPE was the first program that the new Department of A
lternative Education funded, following the formation of the new department in the Myanmar MoE in 206. Phyo supports this critical work by gathering and collating detailed data from NFPE centers and providing encouragement and support to teachers and students. Wide Horizons helped Phyo Wai Lin to find a focus for his natural leadership abilities and enabled him to engage in meaningful work for positive social change in his community.
“When I was struggling with many jobs at my town, I didn’t even know what I want to be, I just couldn’t find myself. However, when I had been working with the CBOs, I realized that I want to be a good person for the community. I decided to apply for Wide Horizons. I want to develop non-formal education for the children who are living on the street. I want to enter Myanmar political field in the future …”- Pho Wai Lin
Mission/Vision: To promote the capacity of young adults from both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border with the skills they need to become agents of positive change in their respective civil society organizations.
Link to PLE Strategy: Wide Horizons develops young professionals from community-based organizations and NGOs operating in refugee camps, migrant communities and Southeast Burma with skills in community development, project management, English language, and computer literacy in order to strengthen their host organizations. The program enrolls young adults identified as ‘next generation leaders’ from a variety of ethnic groups and religious affiliations to live and work together while learning skills needed to build community services in a collaborative way.
Partnership period: 1st April 2014 – 31st August 2017
Project location(s): Mae Sot, Thailand
Project beneficiaries (direct & indirect): Migrant students