Beads - Passion for Facilitation

Capacity development, learning, change, poverty/power/progress

Blog about learning/change, facilitation, systems: small groups and large scale processes, and poverty/power/progress.


Today is the first time that I am in a situation where I can give the 3-finger salute that has become familiar in the pictures coming from Myanmar. Although it is online it feels like we are connected in solidarity with the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

Two days after this online meeting, some words still keep ringing in my ears:

  • Today Yangon and Dawei looks like a battlefield…
  • We are out there as much as we can bear…
  • We were running a lot yesterday – trying to stay away from the police, trying not to get caught.

Reflecting on what we can continue to do and can support brings out the following from the Myanmar friends in this call:

  • We hope our donor will consider that the situation changes day by day…
  • Our staff may be able to talk to the people around them. They were observing that people’s attitudes have changed. After the protests, people are cleaning up the waste. Let’s see if it is short lived or long term. While we talk, we may gradually, over time, start thinking again about the structural change that is needed.
  • We worry about some civil servants in the social public sectors – some may want to keep working to serve the people, but it could lead to misunderstanding by the public. The public wants to see civil servants in the health, education and engineering sectors join in the CDM.
  • Some groups have lists of who joins the CDM, others are afraid to share it... The municipal office is not really open... In town 97 civil servants participate in the CDM…

In the middle of the call a colleague excuses herself: “sorry, I have to see what is happening in the street…” After a few looong minutes she types in the chat: “I’m back.” At that moment, sitting in France, I can feel the constant terror people in Myanmar are living with. “What’s happening?” someone asks in the chat. “The police were entering our street, but the people have chased them and blocked the road.” It’s not for the first time that the self-organising power of the people in Myanmar strikes me. (For instance this blog from 2012) In the same call, we hear about health workers who participate in the CDM. They are self-organizing health services to ensure that people with chronic conditions can get the check-ups they need.

How can we, the international community, support the people of Myanmar, this self-rganising movement with distributed leadership?

Our minds are racing a million miles per minute. The one thing that seems needed right now: keep collecting and sharing these stories, listen, make sense together, and (when asked) financially support each and every initiative that aims to keep the spirit of democracy alive, that keeps people safe, and that keeps humanitarian services accessible on the ground. We have to trust that the people of Myanmar and their (informal!) organisations know what to do. Their courage and actions demonstrate that they will do everything as peacefully and humanly possible to regain the fragile freedom they started to enjoy just a decade ago.

Finally, after the call closure, a few stay online and we just cry together, because it feels like starting from scratch and it’s all just too much to bear.

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