Traditionally, the Banyan tree provides shelter and and a gathering space for problem-solving dialogue; this project works in that spirit.

About the Program

On February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military forces deposed the democratically elected members of government, declaring a year-long state of emergency. Society-wide protests for democracy and human rights immediately sprung up—and that movement continues to persist despite the ongoing, violent crackdown. Since the coup began, we have prioritized the safety of our partner organizations, the people who are engaged with them, and Karuna Center’s Myanmar-based staff. We stay in regular contact with our team in Myanmar.

Watering the Banyan Tree builds on our team’s earlier work to promote the inclusion and human rights of religious and ethnic minorities. Prior to the coup, our team had planned to engage diverse community leaders in dialogue, advocacy, and creative community-based outreach using the arts, media, music, and storytelling. During the spring and summer of 2021, the project team in Myanmar held a series of consultations to determine how we can make the most useful contribution. As of the fall of 2021, the project has moved fully into the implementation stage.

This 24-month program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor.

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