The Phan Foundation is pleased to announce that Saw Min Klay is the winner of the 2020 Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader Award. Saw Min Klay is an outstanding Eastern Pwo Karen leader who has made a remarkable contribution to communities in Karen State.
Saw Min Klay is the founder and Executive Director of Harmony Youth Association (HYA), working for the development of grassroots communities by empowering young leaders to build a brighter future for their own communities. HYA focuses on several issues that affect local people including peace building, poverty alleviation, drugs eradication, human rights, justice and youth development.
Saw Min Klay is actively involved in delivering peace education, through advocacy and community action to ensure people understand their basic human rights, while at the same time making sure voices of grassroots communities were heard throughout the peace process. In addition, he successfully advocates for humanitarian aid for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and for villagers who were affected by conflict as well as COVID-19, saving many lives.
Since the beginning of the road construction of the Asian Highway that links Burma to Thailand, many local communities surrounding the highway lost their lands, livelihoods and basic human rights. Thanks to community workers like Saw Min Klay and others who fought for their rights, some local people received compensation for their lost properties. During summer time, he organised training for young people focusing on leadership, peace building, communication, English and basic computer skills. Many of his trained students have become community leaders, while some of them went on to continue higher education and fulfil their potential.
“Saw Min Klay is a charismatic leader who always empowers others to engage in community work. He works very hard for the Karen people in the struggle to achieve peace, rule of law, justice, security and development. I believe his strong commitment and moral leadership will be a positive change for our Karen people,” said Nan Myint Aung, who nominated Saw Min Klay for this award.
“I believe every Karen has the responsibility to help our Karen people. Our Karen issues must be led by ourselves. As a young Karen, I have always been proud to devote myself for my fellow Karen and for humanity. I am honoured to receive this Young Leader Award dedicated for our Karen Martyr Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan. I consider this recognition as a great opportunity to carry on my work for our Karen struggle. The awarded funds will be a huge support for my work to help the Karen community in education, health and emergency relief, ” said Saw Min Klay, winner of 2020 Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader award.
Nant Bwa Bwa Phan, Director at Phan Foundation said: “Saw Min Klay is a role model for Karen youth who fight for marginalised communities and stand for human rights, justice and peace. The positive contribution Saw Min Klay and his team have made for the people of Kawkareik and Karen State as a whole is remarkable, and deserves recognition and support. This is exactly what the Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader Award is for.”
The Phan Foundation was established in 2008 by the four children of Padoh Mahn Sha and Nant Kyin Shwe, in their memory. It provides grants towards education, poverty alleviation, promoting human rights and protecting Karen culture. To recognise the amazing work of young Karen leaders, Padoh Mahn Sha Young leader award was established by the Phan Foundation, with the financial support of $4,000 for their valuable work. Regrettably, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no award ceremony this year.