During the second semester of 2007, the ERI Alumni Small Grants Program was able to award grants to 5 different projects from our Alumni and their organizations. The projects included trainings, a book publication, research, and organizational support. They were selected from a significant number of proposals based on the quality of the project proposed, their innovative ideas, and their commitment to meet specific needs in communities.
Pan Kachin Development Society and Life Vision Foundation pooled their skills to do research about the impact that mining activities in Kachin State has on women and children. The main purpose of the project was to raise awareness about the negative consequences of mining through the publication of a book and a video. This is a long term project; the grant will support the first phase of the research project as requested in their proposal.
Another project that focused on research was the one carried out by Human Rights Foundation of Mon Land and Woman and Child Rights Project. Information was gathered to show the lack of human resources in Ye Township. The research exposed the fact that 70% of the residents between the ages of 18 and 45 are leaving the village because they endure problems such as insufficient healthcare and inability to make a living, and various human rights abuses. Through this research, it was possible to show the perspective of local people about this situation, and also to make a call to youth to go back to work in their hometown in order to help improve the situation of the area.
Karen Rivers Watch conducted the previous year a research on herbal medicine and with the support from Small Grant they were able to compile the information obtained into a book and print 1000 copies in Karen language. The copies were distributed among organizations and individuals in 8 different villages. In this way the local knowledge about herbal medicine can be preserved, shared and passed on. Moreover a herbal medicine center in Papu district was established. This will encourage the collaboration and networking among communities who will work together for the conservation of traditional medicine
Following the great significance that ERI´s sets on human rights and environment the Palaung Youth Network Group trained 20 Palaung people about the impact that the construction of dams has on human rights. The training focused on the Shwe Li Dam project and intended to, not only raise awareness, but also to propose possible solutions to the problems created by the dam. As a result, the participants were able to share their experiences and they were able to gain sufficient tools to pass on the training to other members of their community. Furthermore, PYNG agreed to collaborate with some researchers who are willing to collect information about Human Rights and environment destruction for PYNG's Human Rights documentation project.
Finally, ERI supported the work of the EarthRights Students Union. Thanks to the grant ERSU was able to restart their activities by which they pretend to strengthen the networks of the ERSB Alumni. Now, ERSU is able to raise their own funds and carry out their different activities.
All the projects were conducted successfully and their achievements and evaluations and were reported back to ERI. Clearly, there were some obstacles related to security, communication, and planning. But the organizations have used these difficulties as lessons to be considered for further projects. All of the grantees are highly thankful to ERI Alumni Small Grants and are looking forward to continue working with us.