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Why I Cycled 150 km to Support Women in Myanmar
As a student in the University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology program, I am learning the study of human movement. That means I spend a lot of my time in labs looking at how humans move from a cellular and musculoskeletal level.
In the lab, Electroencephalography (say that 5 times fast) or EEG, is a tool used to learn what is happening in the brain by scanning it.
In my short time as a MEDA supporter, I have done theoretical “brain-scans” of this organization, and I have come to a conclusion, MEDA is a great organization. By attending their 2017 convention in Vancouver, Canada and visiting to their Improving Market Opportunities for Women in Myanmar (IMOW) this November I have learned just how important MEDA’s work is to the fight against poverty.
As the EEG learns what is happening in the brain, I have learned what is happening in MEDA and in their Myanmar project – and I am happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed!
Here are three things I learned about MEDA on my trip to Myanmar:
MEDA is an organization that is enthusiastic and energetic; and it uses these forces to propel it forward in its mission to provide business solutions to poverty.
I saw this energy first-hand when I attended #MEDACon2017. You could feel the currents moving throughout the room as more than 400 people congregated to learn about MEDA’s work around the world and listen to the engaging seminar and plenary speakers.
I also saw this enthusiasm from my local Leamington MEDA chapter. When I showed interest in the MEDA trip, they helped secure funding for the trip expenses and assisted in raising an incredible amount of money for the project (I’ll tell you how much at the end).
MEDA financially supports, educates and trains the communities where it works. This is my second “e” because education is a key component of their Improving Market Opportunities for Women (IMOW) project. One area of education is in financial and management skills. Through partners in Myanmar, MEDA has 114 Village Savings and Loan Groups supporting over 2,000 clients. I had the pleasure of meeting one such group. I considered it an honour and privilege to meet the clients and hear stories of how MEDA’s groups have changed their lives. I could see the excitement in their eyes when I asked them their hopes and dreams for their families and farms.
MEDA also brings critical experience to agricultural practices in the culturing of rice, garlic, cauliflower, eggplant and turmeric. The impact of this goes beyond higher yield – it also means food and income security and fosters the empowerment of women in their communities.
The final “g” is for generosity. Generosity surrounded me at the conference and while in Myanmar. Many people who are involved with MEDA are very generous with what has been given them. MEDA supporters helped me and my dad raise over $24,000 for the Myanmar project! But I learned that they are generous in more ways than that. The cycle tour group had members from all professions and walks of life, and they were so willing to share their stories, business knowledge and time with me. I am incredibly grateful for the time they spent with me and honour to receive this gift.
This has been a brief EEG, or brain scan if you will of my impressions of MEDA’s work. I am really impressed by what I saw in Myanmar, and I know this will not be my last trip with them.