My Turning Point

My Turning Point

Houses on Inle LakeMyanmar’s Inle Lake is a beautiful heritage site with a unique eco-system. However it has suffered increasing environmental damage due to the overuse of chemical fertilisers and a huge growth in tourism. Farmers are in debt to chemical companies and lack opportunities for economically and ecologically sustainable livelihoods. Young people have few options – many leave as migrant workers to Thailand.

As part of the ‘We Love Inle Lake’ project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered in partnership with local NGO Kalyana Mitta Foundation, Ecologia provides eco-farming training for young people like Ma Kyin Htwe. She explains how it has proved a turning point, for herself and her community. 

Farming at Inle Lake MyanmarI am Ma Kyin Htwe, a Buddhist from Pwe Zin village. Previously I knew little about agriculture but this eco-farming training provided a lot of practical knowledge. The most interesting topic was how to manage and use available local natural resources. I now understand the way to maintain a healthy soil and environment is to make natural fertilisers, the raw materials for which I can get from my farm and neighbours. This was a turning point that changed many things in my views, thoughts and practices.

Ma Kyin workingMy family relies on farming rice and sugarcane. We used to use a lot of chemical fertilisers to produce more. I didn’t know about the impact of chemical products, but the training has shed a lot of light on how to live ecologically and be friendly with Mother Earth. It has dramatically changed my knowledge, attitude and practice regarding farming. I feel I am physically and psychologically living in a new world.

Ecofarming Training in MyanmarIn my village, people assume that using chemicals for farming is good and profitable. Production is amazing but debt is a burden we have to bear every year. I have learnt several eco-farming skills, which I will share with others to sustain these methods from generation to generation. Thank you for this privilege to study eco-farming and gain new knowledge and skills!

Our second eco-farming course has now begun. Of the 26 participants, half are young women. All are eager to learn how to make positive changes to benefit both themselves and their communities.

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.