Storytelling is the thread that weaves us all together, the activity that makes humans uniquely human. Stories bridge linguistic and cultural boundaries. They entertain, they educate, and they shape and preserve our cultures and morals. Stories record the most important lessons from our history and illuminate the most promising visions for our future.

In recent years, human rights storytelling and digital storytelling have become an increasingly important pathway to justice. For both survivors and perpetrators of human rights abuses, speaking one’s own truth can transform pain and suffering into dignity and hope. For the audience, these stories can be a window into understanding the most difficult of human experiences, and through that window they can discover compassion, courage, and understanding.

Our new human rights storytelling initiative, Faces of Change, provides a platform for our students, alumni, staff, partners, and other members of the ERI family to share their personal stories.

Our goal in this series is to amplify stories that are usually silenced, to provide a space for them to be told, heard, and shared, and to generate meaningful and long-lasting dialogue and change. These stories will be documented through participatory practices and in depth collaboration between our staff and the communities we serve, and will be told through a variety of mixed media including film, animation, photography, audio, and prose.

In the inaugural posting in our Faces of Change series, we hear from Khun Yo Thar, one of the 2014 students at the EarthRights School Myanmar.  Before working in human rights, Khun Yo Thar was a soldier in the Karenni Army; his story reveals his journey from a small orphanage to a life as an emerging civil society advocate.

Khun Yo Thar tells us: “To change the situation, it is important to improve your situation first. Then you try to help your family change, then your neighbors, and then your community. And then, step by step, the change will grow.”

Khun Yo Thar’s story is just the first in this new series. We hope that by hearing and sharing these stories, we will all see our own reflection in the Faces of Change, and be inspired and compelled to join in the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world.