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More than just money for villagers

Micro credit scheme provides a sense of community too

More than just money for villagers
This villager is rearing pigs through a church-run micro credit program reporter, Pho-yar-we’

October 12, 2011

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A micro credit scheme run by Karuna Yangon Social Services is not just providing needy people with much needed finance and livelihoods; in the village of Pho-yar-we in Yangon archdiocese, it is also bringing Catholics, Baptists and Buddhists to forget their differences and come together. “We’ve faced a lot of challenges since we started the program here last year,” says Mahn Isidore, coordinator of livelihood programs at KYSS. “We started out offering micro credit to Catholics, Buddhists and Baptists. In the beginning, Baptists got angry with us when we went to Buddhists and Buddhists got angry with us when we went to Baptists. Some of them thought we’d come to convert them to Catholicism.” “But now people have realized our true intentions and, in a short period, people from different religions are working with unity, mutual understanding and good relationships.” “We’re not aiming to convert people,” adds Father Joseph Maung Win, director of KYSS. “This is just the Church’s effort to improve living standards for everyone, regardless of their religion.” “These micro credit schemes help the villagers learn how to earn money and how to manage their own finances in the long term.” Livelihood programs have been running in the archdiocese since 2009 and more than 30,000 villagers in 33 villages have joined the program’s micro credit schemes. U Ohn Thei, a Buddhist and chairman of the Pho-yar-we village rehabilitation and development committee, is full of praise for the scheme. “It’s given us self reliance, responsibility and unity,” he says. “It’s also brought more equality, justice and brotherhood. Now the majority of the villagers are able to live without depending on others.” John Htay Aung, a Catholic villager, agrees.  “Catholics, Baptists and Buddhists are living in the same village and we didn’t have a good relationship among ourselves.” “But now with the help of the Church, we can work together, our entire livelihood is improving and we can even donate 400,000 kyat (US$480) each to the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church and two Buddhist monasteries.”
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