|Joanna Lumley appeals on behalf of Prospect Burma|
PB News Issue No. 4, Autumn 2001
On May 6 2001, Joanna Lumley broadcast an appeal on Radio 4 on behalf of Prospect Burma. This is what she said:
"Burma is a Buddhist and deeply spiritual land in southeast Asia that once had proud educational traditions. This came to a brutal end in the summer of 1988 when the military government crushed the protests of students whose only crime was to ask for democracy. Hundreds of students were killed. Thousands more were forced to flee their homes and country.
"Prospect Burma is a UK-based charity formed in the aftermath of these terrible events. For the past decade, it has continued to provide educational opportunities for those so cruelly deprived of the chance to study. It's a daunting task. In Burma today, the universities are closed more often than they're open; only one in four children finished primary school, and the country faces an alarming array of social ills, from ethnic conflict to drug addiction and the spread of AIDS.
"But the young people of Burma haven't given up hope. Whether in exile or at home, education remains a key focus of the movement to rebuild democracy. Although she has spent much of the past decade under house arrest, Burma's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has repeatedly put education at the forefront of her non-violent campaign for reconciliation and reform. For this, she has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and she supports Prospect Burma as much as she can.
"Prospect Burma is active in many fields. Vocational and language classes help students in borderland areas cope with the demands of refugee life away from their homes. The publication of text-books in neglected subjects like health or human rights supports communities in their daily struggle for survival. And scholarship programmes allow students the chance to study in specialist fields that are denied but much needed in Burma.
"All the students Prospect Burma has supported are committed to return to their country. Among them is Peter who helps poor farmers develop new crops in mountain areas. Cho Cho, a health worker who works with women and young girls at risk from prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases. And Win Pe, a teacher who runs educational programmes for Burma's different ethnic peoples. The work of these young people and many others is helping Burma prepare for a better future.
"A former British colony, Burma may now seem a troubled country far away. But the support of education will really make a difference. Please help Prospect Burma keep the flame of education alive."
We received donations from nearly 300 listeners, and our warmest thanks go to all of them, as well as to Joanna for making the appeal. In all, over £10,000 was raised, ranging from £1,000 to an anonymous handful of stamps. If you would like to help Prospect Burma, please click here.
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