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A Tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi

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Reading about Aung San Suu Kyi traveling through Europe these days is wonderful and amazing news to me. It brings me joy and reminds me that we must never give up. And today is Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday.

I was in Burma (officially called Myanmar these days) in November 2009 (see my blog).

"The Lady," as Burmese people call her, was in house arrest at that time, and there was no apparent sign that her situation or that of her country would improve.

There are 60 million people in Burma and a third of them live under the poverty level. Many natural resources exist, but the selfish politics of the generals ruling the country have prevented Burma from taking advantage of them. As well, the international community has restricted foreign aid, again because of the ruling junta's draconian policies. Decent roads, health care and education are lacking. I came across 11-year-old Mau Kham, who instead of going to school was working in rice fields for 60c per day.

Lately the political situation has started to change, probably a sign that international diplomacy can make bad situations evolve. Aung San Suu Kyi was let out of house arrest in 2010, and allowed to talk to her people. In December 2011, our U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, went to Myanmar to visit with Aung San Suu Kyi, an amazing milestone in this political evolution.

Now, she is authorized to travel to Europe, with the certitude that she will be allowed back into her country.

Besides meetings with European heads of states, Aung San Suu Kyi received in person the Nobel Peace Prize she earned in 1991, and can see her grandchildren for the first time.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a true inspiring leader who has sacrificed her personal life for the sake of her country, and has never given up fighting for her people despite very harsh times.

It will take a long time for Myanmar to resolve its problems, but her name has carried the hope that there will be improvement.

Wishing Aung San Suu Kyi the best in her endeavors and, for today, a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!