Tag Archives: zoo

5th Anniversary of Burma Center Prague

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!


The event in images

Related Posts:

Twin-Event in Ústí

The ultimate benchmark for truly devoted Burma campaigners: getting up before dawn to catch the train to a day-long event in Northern Bohemia. You don’t even have time to sniff at your coffee before running out into the cold night.

Thanks to not less devoted partners on the Ústí side, at the Faculty of Science of the local University who integrated Burma into their Week of Geography, it all went well and our presentations on Burma, short films about the Cyclone Nargis and Burmese refugees in the Czech Republic and the classic “Burma VJ”, as well as the tasting of Burmese food, fair trade items and the exhibition of Harn Lay’s cartoons were well appreciated.

Once you spend a day for an event, it is really difficult to stop. So we came next day again to Ústí, but this time to the ZOO. Together with the bears Barma and Myanmar and many Burmese refugees – who brought traditional Chin and Kachin dishes – we enjoyed a great afternoon with food, a quizz, the opening of the exhibition, our campaign video, Burmese children reciting Czech rhymes, fair trade items produced by Burmese grassroots groups and, one of the highlights, the bears climbing around in their compound in search of fruits and cups of yogurt.

Many thanks to our partners, the refugees, the people from the Aněžka School in Ústí, the bears … and the visitors who not only filled the rooms but actively participated!

This probably has been our last bigger event for this year. We are now focusing on finalizing the “Indian” project and this year’s edition of our annual publication Focus on Burma. Stay tuned.

Related Posts:

What’s the difference between Myanmar and Burma?

Web statistics are a funny thing, and the most curious about them is certainly the list of search terms that bring visitors from search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing to a web site. If you run a site about Burma, you find search terms like myanmar, mranmar, nyanmar and so on, in all kinds of variations. But the most astonishing thing is the huge number of people who are confused about the two names for country, language, people and many places after the regime decided to change Burma’s history and identity.

Hundreds of people submit their confusion in form of a direct question: “are burma and myanmar the same?”, “what’s the difference between miranmar and burma?” or, in a variation that reveals a deeper familiarity with the issue, “difference rangoon yangon”. We are happy that we can offer to these poor searchers the liberating reading of Bertil Lintner’s analysis, who simply refutes the junta’s lame argument that the new name is more consistent in itself, that it does not discriminate against ethnic minorities, and that it avoids a colonialist point of view. Of course, what’s in a name? The question here is about the legitimization of rule and the accountability of rulers, rather than etymology. One day we all might say “Myanmar”. Or something else.

But: We have recently identified another difference between “Myanmar” and “Burma” (“Barma” in Czech language). On December 18, 2006, half a year after the foundation of Burma Center Prague, two sun bears arrived in the north Bohemian town of Ústí. They were from the zoo in Rangoon (or, yes, “Yangon”) and now the new Czech owners at the Ústí Zoo, who have probably saved them from being sold to a circus, faced the problem of finding good names for them. The solution probably points to a typical trait of Czech humor that helps people escape from any imaginable kind of mental trap: The male bear was called “Myanmar” and the female “Barma” – perfectly matching the Czech grammar that mainly uses consonants as the ending of masculine nouns and the concluding “A” as a marker for feminine gender.

Given this wise decision in Northern Bohemia, we sought to establish a cooperation with zoo and bears. The present result is a blog, “written” by the two bears, and two events on November 19 and 20. While the latter one will take place directly at the zoo, the former one is planned at the Faculty of Science of the Ústí University. The reason for their involvement lies in the fact that last year they adopted the bear Myanmar.

So, at the end of the day we can offer a second answer to the question that continues to give people sleepless nights: The difference between Myanmar and Burma is … well, check it out yourself at the Ústí Zoo. But don’t get too close.

Related Posts: