(Mizzima) – The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) has awarded the 2011 Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader Award to Saw Htoo Htoo Eh.
The award is given annually by the Phan Foundation in memory of Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan, the former General-Secretary of the Karen National Union who was assassinated by agents of Burma’s military dictatorship on February 14, 2008.
Padoh Mahn Sha always encouraged and supported young people to help Karen overcome oppression and poverty. The winner receives a $2,000 grant to continue their work.
David Eubank, the director of Free Burma Rangers, said: “As part of the leadership team of FBR headquarters, Saw Htoo Htoo Eh teaches, inspires and leads teams from all over Burma. In his own area, he coordinates and helps lead six humanitarian relief teams in four different townships.
“He has risked his life numerous times to help his people and has been under direct threat of death and capture yet he continues his service to those in need. In spite of the attacks of the Burmese Army against him and his people, he speaks for forgiveness and reconciliation and is a voice of calm and understanding.”
The FBR works to facilitate humanitarian and development projects between NGOs and local leaders at the district, township and village level.
Saw Htoo Htoo Eh grew up in a village frequently attacked by the Burmese Army, said the Phan Foundation. When he was 11, he left home to study in the delta area and returned six years later. A few years later, he went to the Noh Poh refugee camp and studied in the special English program. He joined the Free Burma Rangers in 2007. He is now a team leader and director of reporting and communications.
“ I am so happy and honoured to receive this award,” he said. “It is not just recognizing the community work that many of us do, but also encouraging us, especially young people, to strengthen our spirit and continue to serve our people.”
Nant Zoya Phan, the founder and director of the Phan Foundation, said: “Our father, Padoh Mahn Sha, would be very proud of the work that Saw Htoo Htoo Eh does. Through this award, we hope it is an encouragement for him to continue the work that our father would want him to persist, as well as recognizing his outstanding leadership.”
The award was presented at the Karen Worldwide Conference in Kawthoolei on March 1.