A wise & worthy investment
For Zeyar*, the concept of going to school was unique. Due to high costs and great distances from villages, most children in his hometown are unable to attend school. Aside from that, many other children in the region where Zeyar grew up, in the remote mountains of Myanmar, were often recruited into the militia. Sending children off with the militia was often the only opportunity for families to provide their children with the chance to get out and receive some form of support and training.
Alternatively, for Zeyar, he became one of the beneficiaries of an education program, run by our partners, at a very young age. From the beginning, he worked hard at his studies. He somehow knew what an incredible opportunity it was to go to school when so many of his peers missed out... He was able to learn and grow in a safe environment; protected from war, violence and the other atrocities that many young children experience in his region when they become child soldiers.
With the support of the education program, Zeyar committed to his studies up until completing 10th grade, which is a considerable accomplishment in his local community and indeed the whole region! By the time he graduated, he was extremely committed to using his education and his life for good. Equipped with this vision and his education, Zeyar left and went to pursue work. Our partners lost contact with him for many years, but always had confidence that he would do well and would make a positive impact wherever he went.
Years later, Zeyar returned to his home city as a 21-year-old and local staff were able to catch up with him. They were not disappointed as Zeyar shared his journey and what he was doing with his life. He is a wonderful husband and provider to his family. Not only that, but through his work, he has devoted his life to serving at-risk children. Currently, he cares for eight children whose fathers are militant commanders. He is pouring into children that are directly affected by the wages of war. It is clear that the investment in Zeyar's education and character was not wasted. He has become ax extremely productive member of society, impacting and improving the lives of young people that were in vulnerable positions just like he was.
Zeyar's testimony demonstrates the amazing power and potential of prevention and education programs. By investing in young lives, even one person can go on to have lasting impact, with the flow on effects enduring for years - even when we don't always see it! All the days that teachers and mentors sat with Zeyar, listened to his struggles and encouraged him to persevere and work hard were not in vain. They helped to shape a strong young man that would go on to be an amazing role model for other young people. It's a cycle of empowerment that combats the cycle of vulnerability and disadvantage.
It's about investing in bringing freedom one life at a time - but the impact of each investment reaches many more lives...
You can help invest in one life at a time by donating to The Freedom Project.
When the team asked Zeyar, “Do you want to say anything those who helped support you?” He immediately burst out, “I don’t know how else to say [besides] thank you to all of you for helping me… It’s hard to imagine what would have happened to me if you hadn’t stepped in!”
This story originally appeared on the blog of Project AK-47, one of our partner organisations.
*Name has been changed and photo illustrative only.