Chit Htoo

Ashoka Fellow
Thailand,
Fellow Since 2008
Grassroots HRE or Foundation for Education and Development (FED)

Citation

This profile was prepared when Htoo Chit was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Htoo bridges the gap between local citizens and Burmese migrant communities in Thailand, where migrant populations have long lacked access to the social services, human rights, and economic opportunities afforded their Thai neighbors. Rather than wait for such benefits to trickle down from above, Htoo teaches Burmese migrant communities to become more self-reliant. Along with a trained staff recruited entirely from the Burmese migrant community, Htoo and his organization, Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development committee (HREDC), builds the organizational and management capacity necessary to instill effective community leadership. The result is a system in which Burmese migrants are empowered to lead better lives while in Thailand, and are better prepared to make an impact in their home country should conditions improve to allow their return.

Htoo also works with relevant Thai authorities and institutions to gain access to schooling, health education, and decent work opportunities. He has reached out to local and provincial government leaders, independent bodies, and the media, and is working to institutionalize Grassroots HREDC within the Thai social sector. Through this process, Htoo is creating an effective legal platform to bridge the existing divide between the Thai and Burmese communities, while also pushing for greater visibility for migrants at the policy level.

Htoo focuses on provinces with high migrant populations, first strengthening their visibility and then providing individuals with social services long denied under current Thai law. As the first registered foundation in Thailand conceived by and for Burmese nationals, it has the potential to serve as an umbrella organization to link the work of other non-registered Burmese organizations throughout the country.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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