Even before the second wave, over three-quarters of people in Yangon and surrounding villages had lost jobs or income, median incomes had declined by one-third, and income-based poverty had risen by around 27 percent between January and June 2020. The country’s GDP growth is projected to drop from 6.8 percent in the previous Fiscal Year to just 0.5 percent in Fiscal Year 2019/20, according to the World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor. Consequently, some Myanmar families are struggling to meet their basic needs, including getting enough food.
To help take care of those less fortunate, Vero is working with the NGO We Love Yangon to distribute food to families in need under a campaign called “Let’s Share a Meal”. Each family will receive a food package every month containing two packs of rice, a bottle of cooking oil, five cans of fish, and 30 packs of noodles.
All employees at our Myanmar office have chosen to contribute portions of their annual bonuses – and however much they donate, Vero will double it. These initial donations have added up to 10,140,000 kyats, enough to feed 600 families, and we hope that with the participation of others that number will rise to 1,000 families by February 2021.
Vero and We Love Yangon’s ambition is to create a massive solidarity movement composed of brands in Myanmar, influencers, and media who will make similar donations and inspire others to support Myanmar families and help the country recover. We are using the hashtag #LetsShareaMeal to call on individuals and brands that are active in Myanmar to redirect funds to support the food donations. As We Love Yangon is run by experienced volunteers, they can promise that people’s donations support Myanmar households that need it most.
Vero employees are calling on others to join the movement by emphasizing how even small efforts can make a big difference in the lives of many, using the phrase “By donating 5 lakhs, your company can feed 25 Myanmar families for a month; 100 lakhs will reach 500 households.” Those who wish to participate can contact Vero at firstname.lastname@example.org. While we are assisting those who are interested, donations will not go through us – they are sent directly to We Love Yangon.
“I was so impressed by all of our employees who came together and made this decision, without one objection,” said Mra Than, Vero’s Strategic Director in Myanmar. “I’m proud to be part of a movement to help the people of my country who are struggling to get by in this very challenging time. Without energy from food, it’s impossible for people to work towards a recovery, which is why we feel that the foundation of all recovery efforts should center around making sure people have enough to eat.”
We Love Yangon is a charity based in Yangon that was established 5 March 2020, whose mission is to strive to improve the lives of local communities and bring about meaningful changes in society. It is chaired by Daw Than Myint Aung, also a member of YCDC and co-founder of the Free Funeral Service Society – Yangon. During the Covid-19 pandemic, We Love Yangon has been donating food to over 40,000 families in Yangon as well as making donations to monasteries and hospitals around the city.
It’s clear the campaign is catching on. The press release this blog was based on has received 38 pieces of coverage, including a half page in a top-tier government media, equaling a PR value of more than USD 19,500.
Some well-known local figures have already voiced their support for the movement by donating and distributing food packages in their townships – while respecting lockdown regulations, of course. Aye Myat Thu, a renowned actress and an active volunteer with We Love Yangon, is among them.
“Ever since the city’s lockdown began, We Love Yangon has worked with food suppliers to provide groceries to those who need them and to help control the food prices in Yangon,” said Aye Myat Thu. “It is an honor to be a volunteer at We Love Yangon for over half a year, and the Let’s Share a Meal campaign is a great addition to their work. I want to keep volunteering for services and campaigns like this that provide assistance with food and healthcare during this difficult time.”