Kachin aid worker given Magsaysay Award

Lahpai Seng Raw wins for peace work in war-torn Myanmar
Kachin aid worker given Magsaysay Award

Lahpai Seng Raw (center) is to donate her reward to a cause she is passionate about

A longtime colleague hailed Christian aid worker Lahpai Seng Raw of Kachin State on Thursday after she was announced as one of five winners of this year’s prestigious Magsaysay Awards.

The founder of Myanmar’s longest running civil society group Metta Development Foundation won, alongside Philippines health worker Ernesto Domingo, Afghan activist Habiba Sarabi, the Indonesian anti-corruption department and Nepalese anti-trafficking group Shakti Samuha.

Saw Min Naing, who has worked with Seng Raw at Metta in war-torn Kachin State since 1998, said the 64-year-old had been instrumental in efforts towards lasting peace in northern Myanmar.

“She helped initiate gathering the rebels and government leaders together from different beliefs and backgrounds as part of the peace and reconciliation process,” said Saw Maing Naing.

The rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military recently held peace talks aimed at ending years of on-off fighting in the north of the country close to the Chinese border.

Seng Raw has worked as an aid worker in Kachin state since the head of the political wing of the KIA asked her to help destitute people in the region in 1987.

The Manila-based award committee said on Wednesday that she was awarded for her “quietly inspiring and inclusive leadership in the midst of ethnic divides and prolonged arm conflict.”

After hearing news of the award, Seng Raw said in a statement that she would donate the $50,000 prize money towards efforts to protect the Myitsone area of Kachin State, where a large Chinese hydroelectric dam is under construction on the Ayeyarwaddy River. 

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