Alumni Profile: Ko Phyo

Ko Phyo is a smiley optimistic young man with the wisdom of someone much older. Ko Phyo loved attending school when he was young, but when he was in high school his father became unable to work. With three siblings, Ko Phyo decided that he wanted to help support his family, so he left his home in Bago Division and traveled to Yangon to work for an air conditioner company. He soon yearned for further learning and more opportunities to help prevent his people from suffering like he did. So, he found a job with the Myanmar Council of Churches where he could work during the day and study at the Myanmar Institute of Theology at night. Ko Phyo has come to now study at ERSB, because as he says, “learning never ends.”

During his needs assessment, Ko Phyo ran into some challenges. He initially started his project thinking he would educate people to prepare them for a new cement factory. However, after doing extensive interviews with the villagers that included methods of Participatory Rural Appraisal, he discovered that what the villagers most needed and wanted was help with Sustainable Agriculture. So, Ko Phyo listened to the needs of his community and changes his project idea to better suit them.

This project will be Rural Integrated Development Program for Cultural Minorities’ (RIDPCM) first project in Kayah State, having never been allowed to work freely in the area due to restriction by the government and armed ethnic groups. Because of the heavy restriction and therefore limited amount of aid, the people in that area are in desperate need of help. Ko Phyo will teach 20 people from 4 different locally-based organizations about promoting environmental awareness and sustainable agriculture practices. This will build the capacity of the organization and enable them to conduct trainings in their respective communities. RIDPCM will perform extensive monitoring to ensure that they do. Ko Phyo will monitor this project himself and help develop best practices for RIDPCM’s 3 year plan that will start in 2015.