Naw Cherry Oo is from a conflict-torn region of Myanmar called Karen state. For six decades, conflict has ripped apart life in Karen state, and the ethnic groups who live there are some of the most marginalised in the country. This has enormous repercussions for the people who live there, with internal displacement of people, pillaged food stores, injury from violence and forced labor, poor transportation infrastructure, poor supply chains for clinics, and increased risk for healthcare providers* just some of the issues.
Growing up Karen, in Karen state, Naw Cherry Oo has experienced enormous loss and hardship in her young life. She told us:
“When I was two years old, both of my parents were killed by Burmese soldiers, because of the ethnic conflict in Karen State. I have three brothers and one sister in my family. Soon after my parents died, my siblings sent me to an orphan school in Yangon. They did not want me to stay in the terrible war zone in my village. They wanted me to be an educated person, but we were poor, and none of my family were able to support me for my education. There was only one way they could do it and that was to send me to an orphan school so I could access education. Since the time I arrived at the orphan school, I have not had any contact from my relatives.”
Over time Naw Cherry Oo moved to a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, where she had access to meaningful education and realised that the only way to improve her life, and to help make a change to Myanmar, was through study.
With Prospect Burma’s support, and the money you raise from running the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, Naw Cherry Oo is about to begin an undergraduate degree in International Political Economy and Development at Rangsit University, in Thailand. She is really excited about the possibilities the future now holds for her. She said:
“In the future, I would like to become a leader who is keen to engage and advocate for peace, justice and equality for all women and men in Myanmar. I would do this through working with key stakeholders at all levels toward justice and social change in all parts of the country. Mostly, women are still denied rights of humankind and are expected to be submissive in our society. Therefore, I would like to inspire and educate Karen people about Human rights as a Social Activist in Karen State.”