LexisNexis® employees travel to Myanmar to provide aid to villagers of Wellgyi and expand Law School Program
13 December 2017 | Angela Balan, Legal Editor, LexisNexis Malaysia
In September 2017, 11 employees from LexisNexis Southeast Asia visited Myanmar as a continuation of ongoing Rule of Law programs including the LexisNexis Law School Program and was also the culmination of the year to date’s fundraising activities for the villagers of Wellgyi.
Located 45 minutes away from the capital of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Daw, the plight of the Wellgyi villagers surfaced through a documentary by filmmaker Htet Aung San which highlighted their struggle after their lands were confiscated under military rule and the villagers lost their only known source of income. The villagers in Wellgyi have only known one way of life – farming. Without a way to prove ownership of land handed down through family generations, the state’s actions left farmers who have lived off the land without means to support their families. Those who protested the state’s acquisition were jailed, adding to the strain on their families.
Accompanied by Thitsa Liu, a practicing lawyer from Allen and Gledhill’s Yangon office and Htet Aung San, the group arrived in Wellgyi and were greeted by the head of the host family representing over 200 families in the village. Throughout the day, the team handed over the donations collected to 27 most needy families to help with their short- to medium-term financial difficulties. Spending a day in Wellgyi enabled deeper understanding of their plight as the team explored the village and enjoyed a traditional meal with the villagers.
The group then split in two groups to visit the law faculties of Yangon University and Mandalay University. During a tour of the facilities, the team facilitated a discussion on the best practices for managing and maintaining a proper library, as books in the libraries were in bad condition due to humidity and improper storage procedures. The team at Yangon University also expressed their appreciation for the cataloging project led by LexisNexis® in partnership with the Philippine Group of Law Librarians (PGLL) to restore damages caused by Typhoon Nargis in 2016.
The key objective was to conduct LexisNexis Online training to a wide audience comprising of junior lecturers, LLM and PhD students. Despite challenges faced due to poor internet connectivity and technology this was successfully conducted and the students were very attentive and eager to learn. The trip concluded with meetings with members of the Yangon and Myanmar Bar association.
Since returning to the office, the teams have continued to work on developing tailored access that are most fit for purpose to the infrastructure at both universities and to integrate LexisNexis into the course curriculum through joint efforts in developing offline training materials. Ongoing efforts are underway to drive the land mapping project, share the story of the team’s experience, and continue to advance the rule of law in Myanmar.