No need to remind you that it’s Lent, a time when we remember the life of Jesus in the period leading up to his death and resurrection. For Christians, it’s also a time of sacrifice, which means making whole and thinking – and acting – for others. This year, for Muslims, it’s also the fasting month of Ramadan, which has just begun.

In this spirit, we at ACI have decided to focus our Lenten efforts this year on offering support to the Young People for Development (YPD) network of the Karen people, an ethnic group, whose communities live on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border.

Since its beginnings in 2003, the Karen YPD network – almost a movement now – has continued to form and organise young leaders using the Cardijn “see-judge-act” method with which we are so familiar.

Many of these young people have been displaced from their home villages by a conflict that has lasted for over 80 years and which has only worsened since the latest military coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in 2021.

Many Karen villages have been bombed by helicopters and planes, causing deaths and injuries and forcing people to move into the jungle or even across the border into Thailand.

In fact, we hosted a webinar on this very issue with Australian human rights specialist Chris Sidoti, as well as refugee and author Zoya Phan, herself a “graduate” of our first YPD program in 2003, which you can watch here:


Amid all this, the YPD movement, led by a remarkable Karen man known to us in English by his nickname Kwi Kwi, has continued to organise see-judge-act training programs for young people living in those rural villages.

He and the Karen YPD leaders have developed a broad and growing range of programs, including training medical assistants for remote villages, providing vocational training for young people leaving school, and even beginning to develop its own income generation activities.

Right now, YPD leaders have identified two major needs:

a) To upgrade student accommodation in the YPD learning compound located at a small village across the Thai border in Myanmar;

b) To provide food to support people fleeing their villages and taking refuge in the jungle.

I could go on to explain all the activities that the Karen YPD are organising. Instead, I’m just attaching below a series of screenshots from their Facebook page, which I’m convinced will give you a better idea of what they do than anything I could write.

Just scroll down and witness the impact they’re making with the see-judge-act!

Our support
This is our first such campaign, so our fundraising target is a modest sum – particularly given the great need for AUD$2000.

Could you help us take on this challenge to support the actions and activities of the Karen Young People for Development network?

Please click on this link to donate:


Thank you for your generosity.

Stefan Gigacz
ACI Secretary
Where it all started: Young People for Development 2003
A photo of the first YPD program in 2003 with participants from YCS Vietnam, Rural YCW France, Catholic students from China, Karen refugees, RTRC Centre Chiang Mai, young activists from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia…


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ACI Secretary, 3/12 Dowling St, Rockingham, WA, 6168, Australia

By Greg Lopez

Member of the Australian Cardijn Institute (ACI), Cardijn Community Australia (CCA) and lay chaplain with the International Catholic Student Movement, Asia Pacific.

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