Welcome ToSmile Myanmar
SMILE’s Press Statement
Season’s Greetings from SMILE – towards an inclusive 2021.
As we reach the end of what has been a challenging year for people across the globe, SMILE would like to take the chance to thank everyone who has supported us and wish you a restful holiday period and a peaceful and prosperous new year. No-one could have predicted the turmoil that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring on the world, and our thoughts are with those who have faced the most difficult circumstances, for those who have lost loved ones and those who have lost the basic dignity of work and the right to self-determination. Not only has the pandemic impacted the global poor in unforeseen ways, but hundreds of thousands of religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar who are stateless or at risk of statelessness have suffered through a lack of access to healthcare, and in the case of many communities in northern Rakhine, a lack of access to information about how to protect themselves from the virus. We hope that the spirit of togetherness will thrive in 2021, and that our efforts to overcome the pandemic have inclusion, equality and value for all human life at their core.
Is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation working with diverse people from all levels of Myanmar society to promote freedom of religion and belief and to protect the dignity and rights of religious minorities.
Our vision is of a society where all people can practice their faith without fear or restriction and where everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.
Our mission is to mobilize broad support for laws and policies that protect religious minorities and to empower the diverse people of Myanmar to be change-makers.
SMILE Myanmar was founded in 2007 and registered in 2013, SMILE’s main focus was originally to train teachers in Myanmar to utilize participatory approaches.
In the years following SMILE’s establishment, Myanmar experienced waves of violent attacks targeting Muslims, both in Rakhine State and around the country. At the same time, SMILE observed a wide range of increasingly repressive measures that were being levied against religious minorities around the country. In the years following, SMILE began to shift its focus more towards promoting freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) and building interfaith cooperation.
We work in partnership with CBOs, NGOs, INGOs and a broad range of civil society actors. Most of our work has been conducted in Yangon and Mandalay and via our field coordinators in states and regions around the country.
SMILE is maintained through generous support by funding form INGOs, embassies,foundations, and generous donations.
Empathy & Solidarity
We believe it is necessary that we cultivate empathy and that we demonstrate solidarity with marginalized groups and persons different from ourselves.
Justice & Equality
We strive to promote justice and equality for all persons in Myanmar regardless of ethnicity, race, gender identity, ability, socioeconomic status or other characteristic.
We believe that realistic and innovative solutions are found through collaboration, which is what we strive for in all our external activities and internal operations.
Dignity & Diversity
We believe that diversity is a strength and that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.
Transparency & Accountability
We strive to maintain internal and external transparency and promote an environment of openness within Myanmar society.
To promote lasting peace and implement lasting change, our projects and activities must be socially, politically, and economically sustainable
Examples of Past and Current Activities
INTERFAITH YOUTH TOUR
In 2014, SMILE launched a pilot interfaith youth tour in 7 different cities of Myanmar, namely Yangon, Bago, Pyay, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Taunggyi and Lashio.
Youth participants from Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh faiths visited more than 40 religious sites and engaged with more than 60 faiths leaders.
The goal of the interfaith youth tour was advancing youth understanding and knowledge of different religions through interaction with different faith spaces, faith leaders and fellow peer participants.
Since violence erupted in Northern Rakhine State, the issue of statelessness was brought to the attention of the international community. However, the unrecognized Rohingya Muslims are not the only religious or ethnic minority at risk of statelessness in Myanmar.
In two research projects conducted in 2016 and 2017, SMILE, with the technical support of Justice Base, analyzed the risk of statelessness faced by religious and ethnic minority populations in the areas of Bago Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, and Mawlamyine.
PROTECTING WOMEN IN CONFLICT
In conflict and post-conflict settings, evidence suggests that women and girls may be more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
This project aimed to ensure greater adherence to international human rights principles and increase multi-stakeholder support to victims and potential victims of sexual violence by developing the capacity of influential stakeholders (CSOs, legal practitioners, adjudicators of dispute, ethnic armed groups – including their political wings, local authorities and community members) to more effectively investigate, document and report cases of sexual violence and to protect women’s rights in areas of high conflict.
BRIDGING THE GAP
In Myanmar, youth constitute nearly one-third of the population. SMILE believes that youth and our educational institutions play a crucial role in developing the country. However, the current education system lacks the resources to facilitate spaces for open dialogue and promoting tolerance.
SMILE provides capacity building training to youth in Rakhine state, encouraging them to learn critical and analytical thinking skills, like problem-solving, active listening and open dialogue, and the skills to share that knowledge with others in their community.
Theory of Change
If we raise awareness about the existence and effects of faith-based discrimination and persecution by creating spaces where people of diverse backgrounds can build relationships with one another, then people will be motivated to protect the rights and dignity of religious minorities and will work together towards lasting solutions.
Get In Touch
We are always looking for enthusiastic people to help us achieve our mission!
For inquiries about internships or volunteering opportunities, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your motivation and a copy of your resume. We ask that you are available to work with us for at least three (3) months.
All other questions, comments, or feedback should be directed below:
No.351, 7th Floor, Shine Tower, Thein Phyu Road,
Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, Yangon.
No.104, 3rd floor, Marlaroo Feeder, between 36st x 37st, and 76st x 77st, Maharaungmyay Township, Mandalay.