Four years have passed! From 2015 to 2018, 201 Voter Education trainings, 77 Civic Education trainings and 10 Trainings of Trainers for Community Civic Educators – to be counted – Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) went to exotic places, namely Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Kayar, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Ayeyarwaddy, Sagaing and Magway, with its local partners, Naushawng Development Institute (NDI), Scholar Institute (SI), Hornbill Organization (HBO) and Myanmar Egress (ME) under the STEP Democracy Project funded by the European Union.
One participant from Voter Education Training at Pha Pin Village in Phakant Township, Kachin State claims, “I didn’t even think to vote in this coming election [2015 General Elections]. However, I have learned in the training that as a responsible citizen in democracy, we have to vote for the political parties and leaders who can improve our life.”
Voter and Civic Education Trainings introduced democratic and electoral knowledge to over 15,000 people from very remote areas to participate and become active citizens in Myanmar democratic transition. What were the results?
On February 14, 2018, FNF and its local partners sat together and reflected on their actions over the past four years. Together we recorded lessons learned and acknowledged one another for the great achievements.
All local partners shared that this was a flagship project for them and one that had a significant contribution towards the growth of their organizations. Through this project, each organization enhanced its organization’s management and financial system, which further gave them the confidence and professionalism needed to enlarge their organizational structure and capacity.
FNF and its partners defied harsh weather and poor transportation. We worked hard to reach out to people in the most remote areas in Myanmar to share civic and electoral knowledge even when challenges presented themselves, including those such as communication with local authorities. These challenges and difficulties made the work of FNF and its partners even more meaningful and impactful.
The growth acquired throughout the STEP project also nurtured local partners to spread their wings fully in helping people to take part in Myanmar transition to democracy.
Mr Aung Shwe Oo, Program Manager from Scholar Institute stated, “In 2015 when the STEP project started, Scholar Institute was a very small organization. Due to the learning and experience gained through the project which have made our organization more professional in both programatic and financial aspects, now our organization has capacity to run big projects.”
FNF and its partners are saying farewell to the STEP Democracy programme, but the passion and rhythm have not slowed down. As FNF will leave the continued STEP consortium, FNF and its partners are about to part ways, however we promise to continue our great work to enhance Myanmar’s democratic transition and to empower democratic citizens.
When one looks back, the success of the STEP project is an ongoing story both for FNF and its partners.