On 13 July 2020, MPI organized its first Myanmar MPI alumni online meeting.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, MPI has started to virtually reach out to its alumni as a way to reconnect and as a sign of solidarity in these very challenging times. In one of these alumni meetings, in April 2020, the idea was born for MPI to conduct participatory research with its alumni, taking advantage of the vast network of MPI peacebuilders representing different layers and sectors of society around the globe.
By engaging with MPI alumni in different regions of the world through participatory research*, MPI wants to better understand how COVID-19 affects peacebuilders and what challenges we will likely face in its aftermath.
With this intention, MPI was able to gather six out of 42 peacebuilders from Myanmar who had attended MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training from 2000 to 2019 for an exploratory meeting and discussion. MPI facilitator and Board member Myla Leguro gave a brief input on how we can look at the implications of COVID-19 on peacebuilding work on different levels and how to define types of research questions in that context. However, it became obvious that COVID-19 is not the issue on which the alumni peacebuilders in Myanmar want to focus. One of the alumni said that more than 160 people have died in the ongoing civil war compared to six who have died due to COVID-19 during the same period. Even though all shared their experiences and observations on the effects of the pandemic on their personal lives, work, and society, they want to primarily focus on what is happening with the peace process and the ongoing conflicts in the country.