Myanmar

Sai Ye Myint Soe

The story of a local aid worker who works for the communities which he calls home

Northern Shan is where Sai Ye Myint calls home.

Throughout much of his life, he has witnessed firsthand what it means to live a life of despair and deprivation, as numerous conflicts that occurred over time in this region forced thousands of people flee from their homes in search of safety. “There was no other way for me to engage myself in anything else. I wanted to focus my career on helping improve the lives of people with whom I share my home.”

The belief that everyone should have an equal opportunity to enjoy their life and live with dignity was the driver in helping him become the person he is now. Sai Ye Myint Soe started his humanitarian career in 2005 with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-Holland). Since then, he has been working with several other international organizations in Shan State.

Becoming a humanitarian worker was only the beginning of his long journey. Sai Ye Myint Soe does not yet feel fulfilled. “At first, I was happy with being able to take part in the humanitarian response. But I am aware these displaced people are in the same situation as before we provided assistance. I wondered why people are not able to live peacefully and why they have to flee all too often. I am not at ease until they are fully safe.”

This is the situation in northern Shan, where sporadic clashes continue to force people out of their homes, often more than once, although temporarily. In addition, around 9,600 people in northern Shan remain in a situation of protracted displacement, confronting ongoing humanitarian challenges.

Coordinating activities that raise awareness on the risks of landmines and other unexploded remnants of war among the members of communities as well as displaced people in the camp sites is one of many daily tasks Sai Ye Myint Soe enjoys doing. He has been working with the Danish Refugee Council/Danish Demining Group (DRC/DDG) since 2018. This is one of the aid agencies that specializes, among other work, in humanitarian demining and mine risk education. “Being able to somehow contribute to improving the safety and protection of people makes me feel like a worthy person for the community and my family”.

The passion driving Sai Ye Myint Soe forward is his quest to find lasting solutions for the vulnerable people for a better, safer future. However, there are many challenges to overcome. “Landmines and explosive hazards remain a threat to the lives and livelihoods of people in northern Shan. I feel sorry whenever I hear about the men, women and children who were affected by explosions and I hope to see demining activities implemented in Myanmar in the future” he says wishing the people in his community would soon be able to move freely without fear of encountering another explosive hazard. “However, until this is achieved, I will do everything to help keep my community and internally displaced people safe. This my personal commitment more than anything else and it is undisputable”.