Jack and Marilyn DeBoer first traveled to Burma (now Myanmar) in 1988. They would return there a dozen times over the next twenty-nine years. Their first trip was for sightseeing … and the rest were journeys of love.
It all began with a personal connection. Adrian was their Myanmar tour guide and translator in Rangoon (now Yangon), who had been assigned to the party of Americans. Their tour was cut short when democracy demonstrations in the streets turned violent, and foreigners had to evacuate… but not before Adrian candidly lamented that young Burmese people saw no hope in their desperately poor and repressive country.
29 Years: A Journey to Restore Hope in Myanmar follows the DeBoers over three decades, in a story of relationships, help, and hope. During that time, Myanmar experienced much change... and things are still in flux. As is so often the case with volunteer efforts, the end result of the DeBoers’ journey may remain unknown for a long time.
29 Years was created to inspire. Many people experience a "calling" – a situation of great need - in their neighborhood or around the world. This film and the stories on this website, are shared to encourage like-minded people to Go Do Good in their own lives.
After returning to the US, the DeBoers explored how they could help Myanmar. At first, the DeBoers gave time and money for physical humanitarian projects. Then, in 2010, Myanmar showed signs of opening up, and the DeBoers sensed an opportunity to invest in Myanmar’s homegrown leaders.
They conducted focus groups with all types of people around the country, and heard one message: “Hurry up!” “Do it now!”
So, in 2014, the DeBoer Foundation launched the DeBoer Fellowship, an annual leadership program for about 40 emerging leaders from the farthest reaches of Myanmar. Over the course of a year, Fellows attend three one-week sessions and learn from global and Myanmar experts about how to be better leaders.
The Fellowship is a private US organization that has no operational or financial ties with any government, so it is in a unique position to gather Fellows of diverse religious, political, vocational, and ethnic backgrounds.
Today, DeBoer Alumni are widely recognized as men and women of highest ethics and leadership skills, with a deep commitment to Myanmar. They are natural-born change agents who will lead their country for years to come.