Conflicts between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Meiktila, Burma, resulted in the death of over 40 community members, and the destruction of numerous homes and community buildings in spring 2013. Violence continued to spread southward, increasing concern about a widespread outbreak of violence.
Following the outbreaks, in April, USAID, through its Office of Transition Initiatives, supported a local youth organization to disseminate their messages of tolerance and peace.
As the traditional Thingyan water festival approached, USAID and local groups saw an opportunity to promote messages of tolerance among the large crowds that gather for the New Year celebration. USAID supported the Pandita Development Institute to share their message: “With Thingyan Water, May Peace Be with Myanmar” (Burma is also known as Myanmar). Volunteers wore t-shirts and caps bearing the message and distributed thousands of similarly emblazoned stickers and bandanas to crowds around Rangoon and Mawlamyine in Mon State. To leverage the quickly expanding levels of mobile phone users, the day before the celebration, USAID sent 100,000 text messages bearing the slogan.
“I felt more joyful this year to join the water festival than before because I learned from the campaign that peace depends on us, and it is our duty to carry the peace of our country,” said volunteer Wai Yan Phyo.
“I was so proud to participate in sharing the knowledge of loving peace with others during the Thingyan water festival,” said Mo Mo after attending the event.
Before the campaign began, the Institute created the Facebook page “Peace for Myanmar,” with an array of photographs capturing the spirit of the campaign and messages from volunteers and participants. The site will continue to distribute information about events focused on peace and tolerance around the country.
Last updated: October 31, 2013