I can hands down say that the highlight of my trip to Myanmar this year was attending a volleyball finals competition at an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp in Myitkyina, Kachin State.
A little background first – local organization Girl Determined empowers adolescent age girls in Myanmar, and utilizes peer-based circles to teach a girl-centered, strengths-based curriculum. Girls learn decision-making, self-confidence, building friendships, understanding cultural and religious differences, girls’ rights, and planning for one’s future. These circles are called Colorful Girls.
Colorful Girls utilizes sports, specifically volleyball, to demonstrate teamwork, develop physical strength, and create a fun and competitive environment for the girls to explore.
Due to decades of fighting between Myanmar security forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), approximately 120,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes, and are now living in IDP camps. Colorful Girls is active in all the Kachin camps.
Over the past few weeks Colorful Girls’ volleyball teams have been competing against each other, leading up to the championship rounds I witnessed last Saturday.
IDP camp life is tedious, constrained, and minimal at best. No surprise that the entire camp turned out to watch the tournament and cheer on their favorites. I was right there with them, shouting and cheering and enjoying the girls’ glee. The girls were tough, competitive, supportive, and spirited. Watching them brought me sheer joy!
Got to love GIRL POWER!!