While oil revenue goes up and you build a brand new capital, you plunder your nation and send the people deeper and deeper into poverty; health care is neglected, rebuilding after the cyclone is a shell game, and education gets next to nothing…only the generals get rich……this commentary in Mizzima news explains the shell game of the Burmese generals and international aid….so FULL of contradictions!
World Water Day is today, this year highlighting transboundary water, the places in the world where ownership of water rights and the need for access to clean water can mean the difference between life and death for you and your kids. Check it out. According to the Irrawaddy, drinking water is still a crisis in the delta area where Cyclone Nargis devastated parts of Burma a year ago. One of the organizations working in creative ways in Southeast Asia is Thirst Aid.
Thank you for your support for World Aid in 2008. Because of partners like you, many people in Burma, and those being resettled to a new life in the US, received both practical help, and the hope and encouragement that the rest of the world has not forgotten them.
Currently in the Karen state, the Burma Army continues to increase the number of troops deployed against civilians in the ethnic areas. Meanwhile, the offensive against the ethnic nationalities has gone on with minimal effective response from the international community for over 60 years.
In May of 2008, the world watched as Cyclone Nargis devastated the delta region of Burma, killing over 84,530 and 53,836 reported missing (Asean Report). The Burma Army at first blocked aid to those devastated by Cyclone Nargis, and then later arrested some of those who tried to help their own people.
In 2008, World Aid continued our partnerships with the ethnic peoples in Burma. Some of the ongoing projects included:
- Providing relief to communities devastated by Cyclone Nargis in partnership with Karen churches, Buddhist monks, Thirst Aid, and others already in the cyclone area. We continue to help in expanding an ongoing communications network, provided over 800 water filter units (each $20 filter produces enough safe water for a family of 6 or 24 children during a school day),and continue partnering to provide food (and the means to grow it), medical and educational resources, and resources needed for rebuilding communities.
- Providing medical supplies, food and support for villages in remote areas where no other source of supply is available. In 2008, we provided funding three clinics in areas of Burma where they are the only medical help available.
- Partnering with the Karen Teacher’s Working Group (KTWG)—a network of Karen teachers working throughout Karen state providing education and teacher training (see ktwg.org) and Partners Relief & Development. Generous donors made it possible for the first time, for all 2875 teachers working with the 913 schools and 59,604 internally displaced students to receive a $40 year stipend, helping them to be able to continue teaching instead of having to quit teaching in order to raise their own food. KSEAG Film About Schools in Burma
- Partnering with Free Burma Rangers (Freeburmarangers.org) to support their work of training multi-ethnic relief teams, providing relief to IDPs, and working for ethnic unity. Currently in 2008, there are 50 full time FBR teams active in the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Lahu and Pa’O areas of Burma. Each team is comprised of 4-6 men and women who have received training in public health, first aid, advanced medical and basic dental care, human rights reporting, counseling, video and still camera, map and compass, land navigation, solar power, and communications. Each team conducts 2-3 month relief missions each year and is equipped with enough medical supplies to treat 2,000 IDPs, as well as packs for children, clothing for IDPs, toys, and sporting equipment. Since 1997, relief teams have treated over 300,000 patients and helped over 750,000 people.
- Partnership with Christians Concerned for Burma by continuing to support the Global Day of Prayer for Burma (coming March 8, 2009).
- Partnering with the Karen Women’s Organization (Karenwomen.org) selling handcrafts for IDP relief. 100% of funds raised here go back to the Karen community to help with relief efforts for internally displaced people.
- Partnering with the Karen refugee community here in Seattle in supporting refugees being resettled to new life in the US.
Thank you for your partnership in helping to serve the people of Burma. Your support continues to allow for humanitarian projects of all sizes, big and small, to be possible. We at World Aid are grateful for your help!
For the World Aid team
The three articles linked below highlight the ongoing food crisis in Chin State in Burma. People are starving due to a plague of rats. Once again, as after Cyclone Nargis, authorities are denying food aid to people in need, or, as the FBR report in the second link, hijacking donated food for their own use. While this comes as no surprise, it continues to highlight the incredible need for justice, basic human rights, and appropriate response from the world community. If it was your kids starving, how would you want the world to respond? I’ve been haunted the last few days by a quote from Cornell West that I found on simplymissional.com “Justice is what love looks like in public…” God, help us learn what that means and how to live it!
The following is a field report from the team leader of a Yangon/Rangoon based cyclone relief team. One of their missions (in addition to providing food, education support and medical care) is to implement a new method in the Delta region to mitigate ongoing rice shortage caused by the cyclone.
The weed control has been going on since 13 September. Average 10 to 15 people are hired for the weeding, the spraying insecticide only where needed and the cleaning and clearing the wacked weed out of the plots. The two prior tasks are done by men and the latter by both females and males. Then expert farmer and I went to collect a new intercultivator at the blacksmith. Five intercultivators were ordered and four of those are already being used since 13 September. The blacksmith finish making those one by one and gave us at different dates but there is one more ordered. The nice little machine (the interclutivator in photo 1 and 2) can be pushed between rows of rice plants to uproot the weed with the first little fan and the second one behind with four blades cut the weed.
After the visit to the blacksmith in Kungyangon the expert farmer requested me for purchasing some plastic containers to get Effective Micor-organisms (EM) for the rice fields from the agriculture department. (The funny fact is that nobody else but we know how to use it and there are two big barrels of those at the agricultural department.) The expert farmer and villagers went and collected those in newly bought plastic containers. 30 gallons of Concentrate EM (from which we can dilute into 10 times to get instant EM to spray on our plants) in 3 containers carried by a trishaw were brought to the landing place where our motor boat tied up. On the way in we stopped by at two different areas of the two landowners for whom we have been taking full responsibility for introducing our SRI method. You will have to remember we have started the seedlings on 5 and 10 July. The kinds of rice plants we are growing are two different kinds of long-term rice called A-yar-min and Bay-gyar (135-150 days).
We are now at the stage of tillering and we have an average of 25 to 30 tillers at one hill. Our plants are going to be 90 days old in the first week of October. Between 90 and 115 days is called (as I understand what I’m explained by expert farmer) panicle initiation stage just like the plant being pregnant for yield the skiplet or grain. The skiplet will come out and grow from 115 day onwards until
harvest. So the harvest will be after in the late November. After seeing the plots and the weed whackers we hired we continued to get to Kyaung-zu village in Taw Kyung village group where our camp is located. We had lunch at the camp with pickled tea leaf salad. After our lunch the school time was over and some students run into our camp library for hiring schools. Some 10th grade students picked up the newly arrived exam special guide books (brought by my friends) to pass to the others. As a result to our attempt to educated the students by planting some vegetations behind the school they had picked over two hundred corn the other day. Those were boiled at our camp and shared
among some 350 students half apiece. I was also given some 35 pieces of okra as gifts as they do to my other friends. The time I got back to the taxi stand was 4:15 p.m. and I could catch the last seat at the luggage compartment in the back of a regularly-run communal taxi. I had to lie down because the other two have already filled the space. The reason I cannot sit up straight the 45 degree slope of the
windshield of the station wagon. My backpack is my pillow and I bent my knees and keep those upward. Half way down I snoozed at the rhythm of the hood thudding of all loose nooks and crannies along the bumpy road. Not bad huh!”
Friday was the one year anniversary of the most recent crackdown on peaceful protesters by the Burmese military dictatorship. The first two links below are video of interviews with one of the leading monks involved in the protest. The third link is to a BBC report. Hard for the rest of us to imagine….