Action Aid UK ambassador, award winning actress Emma Thompson, and has just returned from Burma. There the anti-poverty campaigner met with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi alongside a wide range of political leaders as the country goes though a number of changes.
Emma travelled to Burma with her son and also ActionAid’s International Chief Executive Joanna Kerr, to check out the latest development work within the country.
Since 1962 Myanmar has had a military government, but a new president and recent elections has seen economic reforms alongside the easing of censorship
Emma, said –
I was in Burma to listen to the opinions of a very wide selection of people representing all sections of society. They were all giving me the same message which was that the story coming out of Burma had been very black and white and for good reason, but that over the last few months control has begun to relax, that the Burmese story is changing. There are difficulties and a large number of challenges, A tiny percentage of government spending has been spent on health and education for example. There are also ethnic divisions that exacerbate problems. I saw deep, wrenching poverty but felt that there is a genuine dialogue beginning to start between the people and the government. The trip left me feeling hopeful.
ActionAid has been working in Burma for eleven years, helping local governments with new schools, health services and trying to heal the peace process.
Thanks to the latest political changes, there is now new hope in Burma.