A new book charting the journey of a group of North East teachers in creating an educational charity in a conflict-stricken Asian nation has just been published.

Bob Anderson traces the growth of Mobile Education Partnerships (MEP), developed over two decades from scratch by ordinary state school teachers from County Durham in areas of modern-day Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, suffering from war, poverty and oppression.

Journeys on the Edge: A Burmese Quest reflects on Mr Anderson’s experience of years of involvement in the country, his encounters with its people, and the popular struggle which ended with a military coup, quashing the democratic hopes of Myanmar’s populace, in February 2021.

But the author, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, expresses some hope for the future due to the resilience and compassion of the human spirit of the people.

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Prior to the rise of the military, MEP, built from scratch by everyday teachers, became an international award-winning organisation.

Its work with communities described as, “on the edge”, many displaced by war, poverty and oppression, in Myanmar itself, and specifically on the border area with neighbouring Thailand.

Journeys on the Edge is said to be far from a “sentimental presentation of victimhood”, but a candid and sympathetic human exploration of how an organisation like MEP was created in such challenging circumstances.

The Northern Echo:

It is said to provide a fascinating insight into the tragic, violent and, at times, “bizarre” situation in Myanmar, drawing on the lives of those involved, including volunteers, refugees, migrants, the warlords and the charity volunteers involved in causes such as MEP.

Mr Anderson’s book has earned the praise of BBC presenter, writer, and patron of MEP, Will Millard.

“It is the story of how one small charity has made one huge difference and is one almighty adventure into this most-misunderstood corner of South-East Asia.

“It is in equal parts thrilling and affecting, but is often laugh-out-loud funny, too.”

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Mr Anderson, who has been long-listed for the Guardian International Development Award, is said to have divided his life between the “normal” world of a teacher in secondary education and the “extraordinary world” of photojournalism in Nicaragua, Cambodia, the Philippines and Burma.

Describing the inspiration for the book, he said: “I felt there was an important story to tell which had universal appeal.

The Northern Echo:

“We had all lived through something that was quite remarkable and the story needed to be told with complete candour.

“As ordinary teachers we had become involved in an endeavour that was profoundly extraordinary, something which inspired us to take outrageous risks and to undertake journeys which led us into a world of warlords, dictators, democrats and freedom fighters, and the refugees and migrants, ling on the edge.”

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He added: “What we did touched the lives of thousands of people and our own lives would never be the same again.”

Journeys on the Edge, priced at £12.99, was published on Saturday (January 28), by Matador, with an ISBN reference of 9781803135021.

All profits from its sale will go to support the work of MEP in Myanmar.