May Yadanar Moe

One Young World Profile profiles

May Yadanar Moe

Studies:
Yangon University of Foreign Languages

I am passionate about

I came to discover the thing I was most passionate about when I started working for Investigation Commission for Sectarian Violence in Rakhine State (2012). As a city person who never got a chance to explore the lives of the people in areas stricken by poverty and communal problems, I never understood sufficiently the magnitude of the difficulty these people had experienced. During the very first field trip with the commission, I came to realize how tough the lives of people in areas where communal tension had been. Many things,which I had taken for granted,could not be taken for granted for the victims of communal problems.At times, I was so moved by the stories of the victims that I almost sobbed. I then tried to understand communal problems and other conflicts that have existed in Myanmar. I had also tried to explore all the possible ways to help the victims of all conflicts in Myanmar.Whenever I went back to Rakhine state for the Commission, I would bring candies, foods and comic books for young people at IDP camps and remote villages. The smile I saw when they received my little presents made me feel happy. After working for the commission for about three months, I came to realize that I had spent almost all my waking hours on the commission work or thinking about how I might be able to help victims of conflicts. I also came to realize that I did not think about becoming a novelist or environmentalist or a businesswoman any more.I realize that I wanted to help the victims of conflicts in any way I could.The gratification I felt whenever I got a chance to help victims of conflicts is much bigger than that I felt when I finished my short stories or whenever I managed to do something for other areas I used to be interested in. It became clear to me that I wanted to be a person who would bring peace into lives of all citizens of Myanmar. To put it more accurately, I would like to be a peace maker.That is how I came to discover the thing I am most passionate about.

Actions

In 2011, the Thein Sein administration opened peace negotiation with ethnic armed organizations(EAOs)to end long civil war and established Myanmar Peace Center(MPC) to facilitate peace meetings between the government(GOM) and EAOs.I was fortunate enough to get a job with Peace Dialogue Program at MPC right after investigation Commission. My job was to help program director organize meetings, prepare reports and develop frameworks. In the initial stage of the peace negotiation, there was little or no trust between GOM and EAOs. Small defects in a meeting could turn into a major problem.We had to be very careful about every single detail in order to make sure that the meetings we organized would not undermine the trust building between GOM and EAOs leaders and that government officials did not use derogatory words and that all dietary needs of all ethnic participants were met. Many ethnic leaders openly praised the ways meetings were organized by our team. They said the ways meetings were organized made them feel that they were treated with respect. Such feeling had allowed them to have more trust in the government. Our team also helped out government negotiators to better understand controversial demands made by ethnic leaders,by helping them to contextualize such demands. Such actions had helped all sides to avoid misunderstandings. Between 2012 and 2013, due to the mutual trust GOM and EAOs had managed to establish, bilateral ceasefire agreements were signed between GOM and 14 EAOs. When asked how bilateral ceasefire agreements have changed lives of people in conflict zones, a Karen ethnic leader emotionally responded,“before the ceasefire was signed, kids from the conflict zones could not cry freely. Government troops would come and attacked us whenever they heard some noise, even if the noise was made by crying babies. But now, government troops stopped attacking us and babies can cry freely. So I played a role in giving babies in conflict zones the right to cry.