Let's grow on behalf of ourselves to create our own destiny.
After the coup d'état, one of the difficulties faced by the people of urban and ethnic areas alike is the problem of food needs.
Due to the fact that high prices, difficult transportation, and agricultural land is no longer able to be cultivated, the issue of domestic food demand has become a matter of concern. Especially in the conflict areas where the military council and the battles are intense, the number of people fleeing the war is increasing, and the need for food for the people fleeing the war is also increasing. Among them, there are more than 500,000 war refugees in Karen State, where the battles between the military council and the air strikes are intensifying day by day.
In order to solve the food problems that Karen State refugees may face in the future, some young people from Kawthoolei are working on the "Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei" campaign, "Let's grow on behalf of ourselves to create our own destiny," and are working from one corner to ensure food security in the region.
The leader of this movement is Naw Zember, a Karen, has been familiar with forestry and environmental conservation since childhood. Her great-grandfather was an employee who managed forests in northern Shan State during the British era. She learned that the forest provides the water necessary for the survival of the indigenous tribes. It is expensive to provide things such as food, medicine, buildings and additional income for the family, as well as the forest and the local ethnic groups to live independently in harmony. Naw Zember said, "I learned that without forests, the world would have a hard time getting water and it could cause extreme fires, so I'm doing my best to teach the next generation."
While running her own business, Naw Zember has been working as a freelance documentary producer since 2010, making documentary films about the environment and social development related to indigenous areas and to this day, she has been providing motherly care to the orphans and children who survived the war who came back from the Karen refugee camp on the border of Thailand. Currently, she is working as a consultant for the Greater Mekong Indigenous Women Network, and after the military coup, she is leading the country's reconstruction efforts as the founder of Love Unity Peace Foundation and Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei. Naw Zember said the Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei campaign started in December 2021 after the military coup and aims to reduce the food shortage in the long run and enable people to live equally.
Food Not Bombs is a global movement that emerged after the Second World War, valuing people as human beings. It is also a movement to protest against the unfair treatment of humans and animals. Different countries are doing this movement in their own way. To reduce the food crisis that people are facing in the country, Food Not Bombs Myanmar, local food sharing activities such as Food Not Bombs - Rakhine, Food Not Bombs Maesot are also being conducted. Naw Zember said that Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei Movement started with four principles: freedom of Justice, equality, peace and stability. As a Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei campaign, the theme is "Let's grow on behalf of ourselves to create our own destiny", and the main necessary for agriculture, and the seeds of pure vegetable crops were distributed to the camps where the staff of the KNU department, young people from the revolution lived and the residents who live in Kawthoolei.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) famine warning report published in May this year stated that Myanmar is among the 22 countries that are particularly concerned about food insufficiency. FAO estimates that more than two million children and women in Myanmar will need food aid in 2023, due to the ongoing armed conflict and violence in Myanmar, the situation of food insufficiency and the need for humanitarian aid may worsen. Name Zember said that for the food problem that may be encountered in the future, if we take responsibility for our family's food, including our own food, we can practically solve the problem of food shortage.
Naw Zember said, "It is about doing practical work on responsible solutions in the human environment, taking responsibility to represent, and fundamentally participating in nation building.” Additionally, we are also working on activities such as to working to ensure local food security, "healthy and happy education" for children who have fled the war in the Kawthoolei area to reason and think creatively, "Plastic-free natural environment" to clean up plastic waste in natural forests, medical treatment for war refugees and to raise health awareness, "Healthy and Happy World", and "Through unity and love to the victory" which encourages young people to open up and strengthen each other.
Additionally, at the elementary school where children who escaped from the war and the local indigenous tribes are studying in the primary school, they teach handicrafts and recycling of waste materials one day a week, implementation of the traditional jet-cutting business for women in the village,ad they also opened a library for children in Kawthoolei. These activities are led by young leaders, and they say that they are working together with the Department of Education in Kawthoolei region, Department of Forestry, Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Karen Youth Association.
Naw Zember continued that those who lead the activities are working together with their financial strength as much as they can, and they are not working with funding from other organizations It is said that some of the youth leaders contributed to the seeds and other needs for planting with their wages and sweat, and the Kawthoolei benefit groups in Bangkok also participated and helped. Naw Zember said that in particular, all the Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei programs are led by young women and local indigenous mothers, and local indigenous mothers and women are also doing the farming for their families. For this reason, she said, if the participation of women in social benefit activities is strengthened, the basic needs of building the country will be strengthened.
Naw Zember said, "Women and mothers are the powerhouses for building the country, and by building from the ground up women who are capable of becoming mothers, they can participate as core members in building the country." Naw Zember added that Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei values people as human beings regardless of race, religion, respects, values and sympathizes with living beings and aims to share and support for a peaceful society, so if the people of the region are peaceful and happy, the movement is successful.
Naw Zember said, "If the local villagers, war refugees, and young students who participate in our movement are happy and peaceful, then the Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei movement will be a success.”
Currently, there are activities connected with Food Not Bombs Myanmar and other Food Not Bombs activities that share food in the region are going to be connected later. "We will move forward and continue to do as much as we can. We will move steadily and regularly to expand cooperation links and activities."
Since food security is critical to people's survival, efforts to grow their own crops will provide support for long-term food shortages. Naw Zember said that for this reason, Food Not Bombs Kawthoolei activities are open to everyone who adheres to human rights and human values, and welcomes those who will participate as well.