A strong force in a complicated area
Aye Aye Nyein is one of the driving forces behind the Red Cross unit in Myanmar. In 1992 she started in the field as a volunteer in her hometown Kyainseikgyi in Kayin state. Today she is the proud director of Rakhine Operations Management Unit in Rakhine state.
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“When I joined the Red Cross there was an open conflict in my hometown. Different armed groups were fighting against each other. We as volunteers provided all the help we could give. We were doing fundraising, sharing information about seasonal health issues and tracing lost family members. But because so many people got injured during the conflict, we also had to do First Aid and take care of the victims. We provided help to anyone, regardless of which armed group they belonged to, because that is what the Red Cross does.”

“I have a vivid memory of my time as a volunteer. A truck full of women and children was attacked by one of the armed groups because the driver was from the military. Several of them were killed, others got injured. We, the Red Cross volunteers, had to assist the doctors and nurses as much as we could. It was so overwhelming. Late at night we drove the victims to the closest hospital. We were in a military car; I was terrified that someone would attack us. I was so happy when we arrived at the hospital.”

Luckily that experience didn’t stop Aye Aye Nyein. Thanks to all her hard work in the field, MRCS HQ hired her as a Red Cross employee in 2005. Today she is the Director for a challenging department programing in Rakhine. When Aye Aye Nyein arrived in Rakhine three years ago, the Red Cross only offered emergency support. Together with her colleagues she created a strong department that now offers several long-term programs focusing on improving the situation of the vulnerable population and contributing to improved social cohesion in a very politicized area of Myanmar. A result that she is proud of. But there is one thing that makes her even prouder.

“In Northern Rakhine State we currently have both Rakhine and Muslim volunteers working side by side. That is a huge improvement comparing with a few years back. We hope that our longterm resilience work can continue in the years to come despite the increasing tension between different actors in the region.”

Aye Aye Nyein

Myanmar, 1992

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Only 24.3% of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019, a slow increase from 11.3% in 1995.

– UN Women

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