Our Past Successes

Myanmar – We Love Inle Lake

Restoring local environment, supporting social enterprise and training for young people.

About Inle Lake

Inle Lake watershed area is a heritage and major tourist site with a unique eco-system. However, there is increasing environmental damage to the watershed due to overuse of chemical farming and pressure from increased tourism as Myanmar emerges from years of isolation. Farmers are in debt to the chemical companies and have few opportunities for economically and ecologically sustainable livelihoods. Youth in particular have few options with many leaving as migrant workers to Thailand or having to resort to illicit ways of earning a living.

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What are the issues?

Until very recently, Myanmar was a closed society with little contact with the rest of the world. Climate Change was an unknown factor in people’s lives, and poverty was widespread for most people in the society. Migration to other countries such as Thailand to earn money to support their families was, and still is, common practice, and education and career prospects for young people were bleak.

nle Lake is a beautiful, freshwater lake on the Southern Shan State plateau in Eastern Myanmar (Burma), a major tourist site, home to scores of endemic flora and fauna species, and culturally diverse ethnic minority groups. The majority of livelihoods in the watershed rely on small-scale traditional farming, yet agri-business models and increasing pressures of tourism are contributing to severe environmental degradation of the lake and livelihood resource bases, leading to debt cycles, exploitation and loss of livelihoods. Youth are particularly impacted by loss of livelihood opportunities, often resulting in large-scale migration, or involvement in illicit channels for income. Most farmers (upland, lowland & floating gardens) use high-input, mono-cropping systems resulting in high pesticide/herbicide use leading to decrease in yield, debt cycle, loss of livelihood and deterioration of watershed. Local people are aware of environmental issues but don’t understand the causes. Climate Change is an unknown phenomenon to locals.

With the increase in tourism to Myanmar, and to Inle Lake in particular, the lake is in danger of further pollution, and the locals are under pressure to provide facilities to serve the increased numbers.

What We Did

With our partners in Myanmar, local NGO Kalyana Mitta Foundation (KMF), in 2015 we were awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to implement a new project at Inle Lake, Myanmar. The project aimed to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged youth, while protecting the environment of the area, through sound agricultural practices that increase sustainable land use and improve resilience to climate change. By 2018 this project was completed.

What We Have Achieved

Below you can watch a video created in celebration of the outcomes achieved in completion of the project.

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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.