Traditionally, the Banyan tree provides shelter and and a gathering space for problem-solving dialogue. The Watering the Banyan Tree project works in that spirit.
About the Program
Since the February 2021 military coup, our networks in Myanmar have been intimately affected by the persecution of activists, ongoing violent conflicts, and COVID-19. Yet, the project team has been able to build on civil society’s sense of unity, across ethnic and religious divides, in the face of these challenges.
We created a new plan together that prioritized participant safety — combining online workshops with localized in-person events. Here are some of the tangible project results:
- Ongoing resources specifically for peace work in Myanmar—including a Peace Practitioners’ Handbook and digital learning platform, Sangha Talk dialogues among monks and nuns, and a Digital Peace Club for youth leaders
- Nine “creative influencing” campaigns designed and led by community-based organizations—with support from the project’s trainings in using the arts for advocacy and outreach
- More than 75 new dialogue facilitators who received in-depth training, then facilitated more than 30 dialogues among hundreds of diverse participants so far
- A series of community-based activities, based on needs identified in dialogues—including trainings in psychological trauma and digital security under the junta; peace “edutainment” shows; & children’s libraries and reading circles
- New peace leadership skills and alliances built among young pro-democracy activists, and progressive Buddhist monks and nuns—critical constituencies for peacebuilding in Myanmar.
As the project draws to a formal close in early 2023, we are working to make the resources created through this project available to continue supporting peacebuilders in Myanmar. Read our project manager’s reflections here.
Through a combination of online skill-building and localized community work, participants in this project continue to work toward a future based in freedom from oppression and respect for Myanmar’s rich diversity.
“The February coup has created divisions even within ethnic and religious groups, but it has also prompted unity across traditional divides. I am proud to be a part of the Watering the Banyan Tree project team because the project is still here to support the partners and our communities while raising the voices of our people amidst these numerous challenges.”
– Peacebuilder and Karuna staff member in Myanmar
December 2022: Our Senior Program Manager, Daniela Westphal Huber, recently met the Myanmar team in Thailand. They were able to reflect together on all of the amazing work the team has been able do do, in small groups and over Zoom, despite all of the hardships and danger in the past two years. In this first installment of Building Peace: Stories from the Field—Daniela talks about the project’s final gathering, peace work under military rule, and reasons for hope.