Notes from Mandalay
Wayne Silby, Ethical Markets Advisory Board
Founding chairman of Calvert Funds, president of Calvert Social Investment Fund and chairman of SynTao Sustainability Solutions
(January 10, 2012) I am in Mandalay now. Looking at the future possibilities of a social development fund here in Myanmar (Burma) — and partly touring. I had two amazing experiences here that I will never forget the rest of my life.
I was at the closing of the Freedom Film Festival, presided over by “The Lady,” Aung San Suu Kyi. These film shorts could only be made by a people yearning to be free. I kept crying throughout the three hours at what a chance — the first uncensored showing of anything in 50 years. So REAL like a social revolution in front of me (I was lucky to get invited .. and The Lady was 50 feet from me).
The second thing was just bumping into someone else’s guide while I was buying a shirt in the market. This guy, when he found out I was an American, told me in essence how hopeful he was of the Americans coming back to Myanmar. He said they were the good hearted and generous people, even mentioning something that seemed to relate to WWII. The way he said it, with no motive, was so pure. And that I spend so much time in China, among a people where everything has a practical, and sometimes cold, purpose, well, I can see there needs to be an alternative.
I don’t know if the change here is real. People are generally waiting before giving an opinion. But it sure seems we should be ready with some sustainable development money to provide an example of how things could be done. And you know me happy to test out …
I will be with SynTao in February. Apparently some Burmese activists in Beijing approached Syntao wanting us to make sure Chinese companies apply the same standards in Burma as they do in China. Not sure exactly how to respond … we talked about and will discuss more.