From caterpillars to butterflies!

By Vasanthy Perera, YWCA of Myanmar

I had the great privilege of attending the World YWCA programme on ‘Her Future: Intergenerational approach to Bold and Transformative Leadership’ held in Myanmar from the 2nd to the 8th of June this year. It was a wonderful time of learning and intergenerational fellowship and I enjoyed every minute of it. My sincere thanks to the World YWCA for inviting me for the programme.vasanthy

The Programme was quite a challenging and unique opportunity for intergenerational interaction, a wonderful idea and I must say that it was a great success. We the older women even shared rooms with the young ones (whom we had met for the first time) and the friendships that evolved are very special. As older women of the YWCA we realise that we have to step down someday and allow the younger women to take over. The ‘Young women Lead change’ project was a timely intervention where young women who were shy and who felt intimidated in the presence of older women members slowly started to come out of their shells. The World YWCA has offered them many opportunities to visit other countries and other fellow young women who were on the same journey. The mentor training encouraged them to appreciate and bond with the older women. Unfortunately, I was not part of their journey and did not see the ‘caterpillars’ turn into ‘pupas’. But in Myanmar I was delighted to see so many beautiful ‘butterflies’ of all different colours flying around – Wow, what a transformation! So bold and beautiful! I was so surprised to see so many young women taking part in activities with so much of confidence and pride. I may not have witnessed the gradual metamorphosis in others but I was amazed and delighted to see how our little Sureka has changed from chrysalis to the lovely butterfly she is now!

My thanks to the training team for the way you facilitated the programmes, each one co-facilitating with a young woman as partner and in a subtle and loving way getting them to lead, to develop their confidence in themselves – in fact, giving them the little ‘push’ that was needed, to become bold and transformative leaders!

It was a memorable one week for me to be with all those lovely young women, to interact with them, to join them in their activities and to be accepted by them. Our time with Bonnie and the mentors was quite enlightening and a pleasurable one. We understood that space should be given to the young ones and it is through our leadership that we pave the way for the young ones to follow the example set by the older women. As Aasha so correctly put it, ‘the need of the hour is a combined leadership across the generations’ to fan the flames and keep the love and spirit of our YWCA movement burning till the end of times’.