Hope for young women in Myanmar thanks to Aylesbury man and Winslow Rotary
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Born and brought up in Aylesbury, Benny Manser has been volunteering and working with non-governmental organisations in southeast Asia for most of his adult life.
Now aged 37, Benny saved up to fund his first volunteering trip abroad while studying for his A-levels at Waddesdon C of E School.
As part of his degree course in computer animation, Benny planned to take a sandwich year work placement in Japan, but when that fell through at the last minute, he decided instead to volunteer in refugee camps on the Thai/Burmese border.
“And that changed my life,” he said
“The students that I was teaching English to, they told me their stories of how they had to flee the military and their brothers and sisters got murdered but they couldn’t go back and bury their bodies.
“After all of this I couldn’t come back home to Aylesbury and be like, everything’s fine.”
Benny has spent years in Myanmar, working with the humanitarian project Community Care Myanmar, which provides free education and nutritious food for children in the slums, plus healthcare outreach.
Following the military coup of February 2021, Benny returned to Aylesbury with his Burmese wife, Su, and children, Lilly and Oliver, but continues to raise awareness for Community Care Myanmar.
Benny explained: "During the Covid pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people got laid off work and the slum areas were already facing extreme poverty and highly vulnerable.
“So we decided to start a tailoring programme.
"Women aged between 18 to about 35 are trained in a three-month intensive course of tailoring, and to also equip them with the business skills to set up their own mini entrepreneurial businesses in the community.
“Because in this economic downturn and the military coup, young women are very vulnerable to exploitation, so we want to provide an alternative so they can have some hope and dignified income.”
Click here for more information about Community Care Myanmar.