Shining beacon of the KCB III (Youth Mobilisation and Capacity Building in South-East Phase III) project, the Veranda Youth Community Cafe serves as a western styled hub for local youth and tourists alike to enjoy local and international cuisine as well as the opportunity to participate in organised activities designed to build community and forge meaningful relationships in an effort to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol in the region.
Hpa-an, the capital of the Karen (Kayin) State in Myanmar’s South East historically has seen somevery hard times. Today, the lack of available work for youth who are already disadvantaged in receiving little or no skills and an education see many engaging in drugs and alcohol. As a relatively underdeveloped state, ADRA Myanmar saw an opportunity to engage with it’s youth by establishing a Cafe that would not only serve food, but provide jobs, skills classes, training and community based activities designed for cultural exchange.
One of the focuses of this project initiative is to provide youth the opportunity to learn skills and gain experience in customer service and food retail. Amongst the Verandah Cafes staff is 24 year old refugee Nan Moe Moe Mai hailing from Umphein Camp on the Thai/Myanmar boarder as well as several interns gaining experience to assist them during their studies. Basic cooking classes such as classic Karen dishes native to the region and how to make the Cafe’s bestseller, Avocado Juice, as well as language lessons in English and Japanese are all on offer. Organised sports activities, singing competitions and guitar lessons are also available with future hopes of building a small library with an accompanying reading club in the coming years.
The success of the Veranda Cafe sees its clientele at a steady increase even making mention on Trip Advisor as a hot spot for visiting tourists.
The KCB III project is only a small step in the right direction. Ongoing support and development is required to build a more sustainable future for the Karen State and its people. As the primary sector of ADRA Myanmar, education is seen to be an important component of contributing to this positive change as several projects have been established in the area to see to this focus and improve education not only in the capitol, but also in the outlying areas.
Written By: Emma McCrow, Communications Officer
Photo: © 2016 ADRA Myanmar | Emma McCrow