Yesterday, we marked the 5th anniversary of the organization Burma Center Prague since its official registration at the municipal court in Prague with a special event. For me the work for Burma has started in 2004 at Amnesty International with a campaign for a Burmese prisoner of conscience who, fortunately, was released even before we could launch it. In 2005 we collected birthday wishes for Aung San Suu Kyi on the One World film festival in Prague. It was during that time that Sabe and I realized that we could not make a real impact and fulfill our idea of sustainable and continuous work for Burma if we continued merely as individuals.
The Burma Center Prague has taken shape in early 2006. But it took still a long way until we came here where we are today. I remember the days when we used only private computers for the office work (I realize that I’m still doing so now) in our living room where we also stored all kinds of materials for campaigns, exhibitions etc. It was only in 2009 when we managed to get funding that enabled us to rent an office and afford a full-time salary that, presently, is shared by 3 employees. (Better projects to come – stay tuned!)
I remember the times when grant-seeking efforts and administration took enormous investments both in terms of finance and time so that more than once we considered returning to regular employment and making our work for Burma a mere free time activity. The policies and moods of International grant-making institutions and a sociocultural and business environment that is often little welcoming to charitable activities continuously nourished thoughts about moving to other places or forms of operation. Then the arrival of Burmese resettlement refugees to the Czech Republic surprised us with a fait accompli and our work gained an additional dimension.
We could never have come that far without the help of volunteers, donors and friends who believed in our mission and our work. So I conclude this short retrospection with my sincerest thanks to them!