Photo: Illustration: Kue Cool for Positive Negatives and PRIO

What drives the small but often heroic everyday acts of people in their attempts to challenge dehumanization and abuse in violent conflict? PRIO is proud to share the first of a series of three animations and comics from Myanmar, Syria and Somaliland, made for the TRANSFORM project in collaboration with PositiveNegatives.

In this story, we follow Myanmar land-rights activist, Daw Bawk Ja Lum Nyoi – one of many who inspire and impact societal transformation in conflict contexts. As a child, Daw Bawk Ja had to flee from war and grew up in poverty and hardship. Realizing the injustice around her, she took on the big military-aligned companies and high-ranking generals exploiting the community, and she started educating farmers in her community about their rights. Her story illustrates how the heroic deeds of individuals contribute directly in creating positive changes for their communities. 

Senior Researcher, Marte Nilsen, is the main researcher of the Myanmar study: "In our research, we find that social movements which develop into positive societal transformation are not only initiated by people in power. The project studied changes that rather developed as a result of the work of countless individuals mobilizing for collective actions in their communities." 

Based on life history interviews with important agents of change in Syria, Somaliland and Myanmar, PRIO and PositiveNegatives have engaged local artists to produce animated films picturing some of these powerful stories of individual bravery. In Myanmar we collaborated with artist Kue Cool who has made the wonderful artwork for the animation. Nilsen explains: "We want these incredible stories to reach and inspire new audiences, and to show how individuals make a difference, even in the most difficult circumstances."