Today at Emerald City Rotary we had a terrific speaker from the Soros Foundation, Camile McDormand.
The Soros Foundation is the work of George Soros, the legendary immigrant from Hungary that became a titan on Wall Street. Famous and now rich for his work in currency trading, Soros was blamed in many south east asian nations as the cause of the 1997 currency crash, also known as the 'Asian Contagion'.
It is particularly ironic therefore that the Soros Foundation has such a soft spot for Burma/Myanmar where Ms. McDormand has been spending the past few years working with refugees on the Burma - Thai border. These refugees number in the hundreds of thousands, many of which have been living in the confines of camps for decades. Truly a problem that I am grateful someone with the resources and resolve of the Soros Foundation is worried about.
Camile McDormand gave us a great overview of the history of the problem, with particular attention to the time starting with the attempted revolution in 1988 and the military government's brutal suppression. Since 1990 Aung San Suu Kyi has been one of world's the most well known political prisoners, under house arrest until earlier this year when she was elected into the lower house of parlament. We were delighted to learn from Ms. McDormand that more progress has been made in this embattled country in the last year than in the prior 50.
The Soros Foundation has been working hard to bring aid to the refugees, but also to assist in the education of a new generation of leaders for the country. Recognizing that the local education system was not teaching critical thinking skills, the Soros Foundation is working to provide educational opportunities for Burmese citizens -- outside of the country.
According to Forbes, Since 1979 the Soros Foundation has contributed 8.5 billion dollars to causes such as this.