A Sibyl Watches Over the Myanmar Elections 2015

by Sue Lees

Myanmar election quote

Myanmar Historic General Election November 8 2105

Travels with a Sybil: We don’t stay home and knit when we retire!!!

Democracy is such an ordinary concept to us. We argue about how well it functions in aspects of our politics but ultimately we expect a democratic society to operate. Myanmar (Burma) has had no such belief. Democracy in Myanmar has been a cherished but fragile idea.

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I was privileged to have the opportunity to be in Myanmar for the November 8 2015 election as an accredited international election observer under the auspices of APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad also called Union Aid Abroad, which is the overseas aid agency of the ACTU) and under the leadership of Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University.

Our purpose was to observe the election process – pre-polling, Election Day, counting and report any inconsistencies and problems. Particularly any opportunities that became apparent for influencing the voting. As observers we were to be highly visible, non-partisan and not allowed to interfere.

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The most positive outcome available from the electoral process that had been instigated would be (and now is) ‘Guided Democracy’ with the military constitutionally maintaining 25% of parliament and three key ministries – interior, defence and border security. The NLD must now govern with some of the military influence intact, but in can be argued that, at this stage, a full democracy with a party that has no governing experience could be unwise.

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I say that I was privileged because I had the opportunity not only to participate in the election process but also to meet and hear the Burmese. To find out what was important to them:

“Our vote is our chance to fight back”.

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Voiceless politically for so long, they were determined to be heard.

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Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in schols in Nepal and Timor and now observing electiona in Myanmar, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

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Sibyls’ Salon

 

Sibylesque William James Quote
Sibyls Doris Brett and Kerry Cue, have inaugurated The Sibyls’ Salon to promote philosophical discussion about aging or, as The Sibyls are an opinionated lot, ageing.

The Salons provide a lively afternoon of feistiness, reflection and frivolity in a safe environment, which feeds ideas into Sibylesque.(See below) As the concept develops we will, eventually, open the salons to all.

Sibyls' Salon Philosophy

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

Sue Lees teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

 One aim of the Salon is to raise money for a charity linked to one of our sibyls. Sibyl Sue Lees has worked as a volunteer in Nepal.

Mahabir Pun

Mahabir Pun

The Challenges in Education in Nepal are huge. eg.

Many children are sent to school with little or no food. Where provided, Kajaa often consists of handfuls of beaten rice in a child’s pocket. It is hard for children, who are malnourished and hungry are less able to concentrate and learn.’  

Find further reading here: challenges-in-education-development-in-nepal

The Sibyls have raised funds to help connect remote schools to the internet. This not only allows students to continue their education beyond secondary level, it can also be a future source of income. Sue Lees began working directly with Mahabir Pun – the truly amazing Nepalese teacher who worked out how to connect remote villages and schools to the Internet.  Now Mahabir, has aurhorised two young Nepalese men – Nabin Parajuli (an engineer) and Phurba Lama (a former teacher) to work with Sue Lees as an independent team.  Donations can still be made to the Nepal Wireless Network Project, through thsibylesque.com (contact us by e-mail).  The donation will be directed to the Dolakha/Sangachok areas connections.

Here is his thank you letter from Nabin Parajuli for the donations:

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Donations can be sent to Nepal Wireless. Anyone interested in working as a volunteer in education in Nepal will find helpful information here: volunteering Nepal

 

 

There’s work to be done

by Sue Lees

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 For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.dark green quote 2

………………Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address January 2009

Sibylesque Signature green

Roman border green

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Calling all Sibyls

Fellow Sibyls ‘gird your loins’. We haven’t finished yet!

In April 2008 I travelled with my husband, Andrew, to Nepal, to trek and briefly work at Shree Durga School. There I met Prashuram and other inspiring local teachers. Twenty months later I returned to Nepal as a presenter for a teaching conference, where I re-engaged with the teachers from Shree

Preshuram Shreshta

Preshuram Shreshta

Durga and had the great fortune to meet one of the true heroes of the world, Mahabir Pun, a former Nepalese teacher who has worked out how to connect remote areas of Nepal to the Internet. For more information see Nepal Wireless.

Prashuram and the teachers from Shree asked me to share their dream of helping Shree Durga Higher Secondary School get the Internet, to help digitise their world.

Shree Durga students

Shree Durga students

Together we spoke to Mahabir and ascertained that a connection was feasible. I returned to Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar and asked for support. The best Year 7 ever raised the money and on June 2010 both schools spoke and waved to each other across the digital sea.

Since then 8 other remote Nepalese schools have currently reaped the benefits of this initiative with connections to the internet, connections to an ’in house’ learning site for the schools, access to computers and teacher training. All this has been done by the small scale fundraising efforts of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar students and private individuals who have hosted afternoon teas, asked for donations, washed cars, made cakes…

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

This morning (9/4/14) I opened Facebook (which I am still learning to use!! ) to see Prashuram the subject of a magazine interview about our work. Wow!!!!

“Wow!!” and “Help!!” Two more schools have formally requested an Internet connection. I need to raise $2000 and as I have just retired I must develop new sources and ideas for financing the connections.

Donations can be sent to Nepal Wireless

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in a Nepalese school, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

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