Karenni Social Development Center
Building a new society for Karenni
September 2016 Newsletter
“The vision of the Social Development Center is to promote the lives of the people who have suffered human rights abuses, to teach non-violent skills to build up a new society, to develop the rule of law, to value human dignity and to protect the environment”
This month at SDC
by Principal Myar Reh

September has been a very special month at SDC, full of many celebrations. A particular highlight this month was the Deeku festival, which took place between 8th and 11th September. We held celebrations in the camp and in Dohkita with our friends from KSWDC and KnNC schools. You can read more about the history of Deeku and the events in one of the following articles. 

We held our second Teachers' and Parents' meeting of the year on 17th September. This event, attended by 150 people, is an important part of our school year, as it gives students the opportunity to reflect on their learning and raise any concerns. We also awarded prizes to the three Basic Course students with the best grades. As it was close to the Deeku festival, students performed traditional Karenni songs and dances. 

On 21st September the world celebrated International Peace Day, and so did our students. Basic Course students attended an event organised by the Karenni Youth Club in the camp, and Advanced Course students made their own SDC peace treaty and origami cranes to serve as a reminder that we can work towards achieving peace at every level. 

Finally, in addition to their reports, which you can read about below, this week the Advanced Course students have been wearing their creative hats and making short films of various genres. The films are still in production, so more on this in next month's newsletter! 

We hope you enjoy the articles this month, and we'd like to thank you once again for supporting our work. 

Student Reports 
KSDC students are passionate about helping their community. For the past few weeks, Advanced Course students have been using their community management skills to research needs in Karenni Camp 1. 
The students selected topics such as education, agriculture, rations, water problems, and health.

Students conducted informal interviews in Camp 1, compiled their information, and presented their findings in class to their peers, and as written reports. In this project, students practiced their research, report writing, and presentation skills and translation abilities. Many students also noted that the project allowed them to improve their confidence. This practical experience will certainly benefit students as they continue to work for their communities in the future. A selection of the reports will be made available on our website soon. 
Deeku Festival
by Htay Reh 

Every year Karenni people celebrate the traditional Deeku festival. This festival is organised by the elderly leaders of our animist religion who preserve and are knowledgeable about our traditional ways.

Deeku is celebrated for several reasons. In ancient Karenni history, people celebrated Deeku to honour the different animist gods and ask them for good weather, a good crop yield, and good health for the coming year. During Deeku, people would also banish bad sprits from their community and request good spirits to come and protect them for the following year. Karenni people would also remember their ancestors during this festival.

Another reason for Deeku is to remember how the Karenni defeated the Yuan people, a long time ago. During the battles with the Yuan, Karenni people packed sticky rice in Deeku leaves and boiled it. They called this food Deeku. It would last a week without going bad and if it became hard, it could be put near the fire and would soften to be eaten. Three Deeku are boiled together symbolizing unity between the different groups that joined together to fight the Yuan. When they defeated the Yuan, Karenni people held celebrations in every village and this tradition continued until today.

The leaders predict which days are suitable for celebrating Deeku festival by reading a chicken bone, and the festival must take place within these days. This year the festival took place between 8th and 11th September.

During Deeku, Karenni people invite all of their relatives and guests to their homes, where they provide food, drink, and enjoy each other’s company.

During the festival, our school was closed for 4 days to allow our students to celebrate in the camp. The Camp Committee and traditional leaders organised the celebrations for the whole community. There were many competitions including how to pack Deeku, different sports, traditional songs and dances, and speeches by the camp leaders explaining the tradition of this festival.

Also, on 18th September, KSDC students celebrated Deeku with students from other nearby schools (KnNC, KSWDC and CLC) and their relatives. There were many traditional group dances, and music on flutes and drums. The KNPP leaders and other elders from the community also attended and gave speeches about the history of Deeku. Leaders from other ethnic groups also came and spoke encouraging words to the young people. There were over 100 people at this celebration and there were many ethnic groups at the festival. Afterwards we ate traditional foods together, especially Deeku, meat and Karenni wine, all prepared by the students.

This celebration is very important to keep Karenni traditions alive. It is an opportunity for all Karenni people to dance together, wear traditional clothes, play traditional music and visit family and friends.

KSDC Students Celebrate International Peace Day
by La Say

The International Day of Peace is a day when all countries and all people are encouraged to stop hostilities. It was first established in 1981 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and is celebrated every year on 21st September. 

Today on International Peace Day there are many celebrations and peace marches in cities and countries worldwide to honour peace.

SDC students also celebrated International Peace Day by learning about its history and purpose in class and doing many activities. We learnt about how much countries spend on armies and weapons, and also about demilitarized countries like Costa Rica. We also sang songs about peace and every student made an origami bird to symbolise peace. We even made our own SDC Peace Treaty and spoke about how we can promote peace at all levels. 

Teachers' and Parents' Meeting
by Som Chai

On 17th September SDC held a Teachers' and Parents' meeting in Karenni Camp 1. This event happens three times a year and it is a chance for the parents to hear about the students' progress and ask questions.

KSDC Coordinator Aung Sun Myint praised the students for their dedication and encouraged them to work hard. Also, the Basic Course students with the highest grades received prizes from the teachers as a reward for their achievements. 

Aung Sun Myint also spoke about the current situation in Karenni State and Myanmar following the 21st Cetury Panglong Conference that happened at the end of last month. The students found this very interesting, as it has a direct impact on their community. 

As the meeting took place not long after the Deeku festival, students sang songs and performed traditional Karenni dances about Deeku. There was a lot of food and drink for the parents, teachers and students to share together. It was a very  nice event and the students are so thankful for the support and encouragement they receive from the teachers and parents.  
Photos of activities during September 2016
Top left: students perform traditional Karenni dance in traditional clothing; Top right: students perform at Teachers' and Parents' meeting; Bottom left: the process of making Deeku; Bottom right: food and drink are an important part of Deeku celebrations
About SDC

SDC is located in Karenni Refugee Camp 1 on the Thai-Myanmar border. It was founded in 2002 by three alumni of EarthRights School Burma (ERSB), who wanted to provide young people with the opportunity to learn about Law, Democracy and the Environment.

Since its formation, SDC has produced over 300 human rights and environmental activists. Coordinator and co-founder Aung Sun Myint continues to work with our team to realize the vision he set out with his fellow ERSB alumni in 2002.
Help us achieve our goals
To achieve the goals and the promise we made in our mission statement we rely on many avenues of support. Core organizational and project funding comes from our main donors. We are also supported by our community, local staff and volunteers from around the world.

All of us here at SDC would like to thank our core funders:

The American Jewish World Service
The Open Society Institute
Refugees International Japan

We would also like to thank our partners:

EarthRights International
The Curriculum Project
Mote Oo Education

We still need support to continue doing the work we do. If you are able to support us financially or with advice or expertise please contact us using the links below.

Copyright © 2016 KARENNI SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER, All rights reserved.