Refugee and emerging leader announced as Eaglehawk’s top citizen for 2024

An inspirational and respected community role model was announced 2024 Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year during the Rotary Club of Eaglehawk’s annual award ceremony, held at Canterbury Gardens.

Karen community member Gai Porh La Myint has overcome great adversity but is now entrenched in her new community based in Eaglehawk, Vic, where she is an active member of the Karen Culture and Social Support Foundation.

PICTURED: 2024 Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year Gai Porh La Myint and District Governor Ron Payne, of the Rotary Club of Eaglehawk.

The 28-year-old is the coordinator of community events, including the Bendigo Cultural Festival and Harmony Festival as well as dance festivals that share and celebrate Karen culture across the region, while also raising vital funds for the Karen Community House in Eaglehawk.

After arriving in Eaglehawk from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) with limited English language skills, Gai Porh completed her secondary education at Bendigo Senior Secondary College, where she was advised that some of her subject selections would be too demanding. But GP, as she is affectionately known, is a determined young person, she not only persisted but excelled.

She went on to graduate from La Trobe University with a degree in pharmacy and is now a pharmacist at Bendigo Health, where she also works as a translator across the hospital to assist staff in the treatment of and care for her fellow Karen community members.

President of the Rotary Club of Eaglehawk Eric Smith said Gai Porh has selflessly contributed to assist her community and the wider community through her voluntary endeavours.

“Gai Porh is a fantastic role model for her community and an inspiration for our younger generations in these current challenging times to set their goals and reap the benefits not only for themselves but for their community,” Eric said.

MAIN PICTURE & ABOVE: A traditional Karen Don (‘to be in agreement’) Dance performed by the Karen Community was a highlight of the annual Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year award ceremony.

“This is a great example of Service Above Self, where an individual overcomes personal barriers in an ever-changing world. Gai Porh exudes such positive energy and shares it along with her expertise in her professional and community circles.

“I congratulate her in this important acknowledgment as a citizen in a new country, where she has excelled, and continues to do so, with such grace and humility.”

The 2024 Rotary Club of Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year award ceremony kicked off with the traditional free barbecue breakfast before leading into the official proceedings.

Partnering with various groups within the community has always been a strong focus of this annual Rotary event and 2024 was bigger and better than ever. Attendees were entertained by the Eaglehawk Citizens Brass Band, while the Karen Community’s traditional Karen Don (‘to be in agreement’) Dance, accompanied by traditional instruments and music, was a spectacular presentation.

Other groups joined in to ensure the morning was truly representative of the diverse community. The 1st Eaglehawk Scout Group undertook the flag raising ceremony, local vocalist Sharyn McGowan led the crowd in a brilliant rendition of ‘We are Australian’, members of the Eaglehawk Fire Brigade joined in the celebrations, while local community radio station Phoenix FM broadcast live commentary of the proceedings.

Set in the beautiful Canterbury Gardens in the heart of Eaglehawk, the event always attracts many attendees, who enjoy coming together to honour the community’s brilliant citizens and celebrate their achievements.