Thailand Defies UN

Thailand is  sending refugees out to sea in boats with no motors so they will die somewhere else.  Bad politics…..see article.    Defying the UN is common practice for many countries.  The desperation that drives refugees to risk everything…..beyond words.

How does the world respond effectively?

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What can be done for Burma?

 Benedict Rogers of CSW visited Seattle recently and spoke about what can be done  about the problems of Burma.  He listed ways for people to campaign for meaningful change in Burma:

  1. Advocate for a universal arms embargo to go through the United Nations (US Campaign for Burma)
  2. Advocate  referral of the SPDC (illegal government of Burma) by the United Nations to the International Criminal Court to bring the generals to justice for crimes against humanity
  3. Support the democracy movement’s current campaign for a credential’s challenge in the United Nations to challenge the idea that this illegal regime has the right to represent the people of Burma (UN Credentials)
  4. Campaign for increased humanitarian aid to Burma, particularly to the areas where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are struggling with very little humanitarian assistance (Free Burma Rangers)
  5. Increased awareness and international response to the famine in Chin state caused by a plague of rats which have destroyed the food supply of 200 villages leaving at least 100,000 people close to starvation (Chin Relief)

The Change for Burma Campaign is run by Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Partners Relief & Development UK.

Crisis in Congo-link to a letter to Senators

A google search of “crisis in Congo” returned 2,120,000 hits.  It’s not like the world doesn’t know there’s a problem, a big problem.  Harper McConnell, of Heal Africa, explained that while many international organizations have pulled out of Congo, they are still working in the midst of the conflict.  Their web site tells of the ongoing life changing and life saving work they do.  

Several  ACTION STEPS that we can take are listed on their web site, along with the following explanation: “Through much of the media, the unrest is presented as a tribal conflict, but it is a conflict rooted in control for resources. Resources such as coltan (in latops and cell phones), diamonds, gold, tantalum, minerals which drive the global economy. It is the people of DR Congo who are suffering for the extraction of these minerals which are sold to multinational companies. Write your senator using this letter to tell them to support Senate Bill 3058 and enforce multinationals to follow strict extraction and purchasing guidelines. ”  (There’s also a link to a letter to write to companies using coltan to check their sources, a link to a petition to print out and gather signatures on, and a donation link).  

The video linked here shows another report done by the Pulitzer Center on Coltan and the Congo:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OWj1ZGn4uM 


“God, make me angry, and in my anger help me to act”

The above quote by Chris Marlow was his prayer for the year. I love that prayer. I read his amazing post this morning about why he is passionate about the work his organization, H.E.L.P. does to help orphans in Zimbabwe, and was impacted.  

As a Christian, seems like some of us tend to anger over the wrong stuff-not the stuff God gets angry about, like injustice!  We get angry about inconvenience or disappointments or standing in a line somewhere, or someone late for an appointment.  And then we get depressed over injustice-not empowered.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “there is a time for everything.” Ephesians 4:26 says “be angry and sin not.”  So looks like it’s possible to be angry and be empowered, instead of staying at stuck at overwhelmed and DO something to use that energy to promote change and justice and live out our faith?  

The other part of Chris’s post dealt with why he was so passionately involved with what he was doing, and he’s trying to do a lot!  I resonate with that one too.  (The passion part-I’m only doing small things).  It’s always about the people.

A few years ago my husband and I had the privilege of going to Thailand and went to one of the refugee camps with a pastor friend there.  As we met people in person whose work we had supported from here through World Aid, Inc., I was permanently changed by what I saw.  I remember the moment where I realized Galatians 6:3 “Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ,”  was not an option or a warm fuzzy thought.  It’s a command.  

As a mother of three children, I could relate in a very small way to some of the burdens the women of Burma face. I have given birth with the privilege of having medical care and a safe, comfortable place to do it in, and then time to recover.  I cannot imagine giving birth in the jungle without assistance, while you are trying to run from the military.   My three beautiful babies are now three healthy adults who have gotten or are getting the education they need.  I cannot imagine losing your babies to malaria or having them become a statistic in the high infant mortality rate that is Burma.  My husband is alive and well.  I cannot imagine seeing family members killed or blown up by landmines. We voted this week.  I cannot imagine running from an illegal government and having  less rights than a sea lion has here in America (although I know some Americans can).  These are some of the burdens they bear. That day, I knew I had to do something.  It became personal, mother to mother.  

What am I angry about?  I am angry that people die needlessly and that mothers who love their children as much as I love mine do not get to see them become adults.  Two friends, Leah and Alan, asked for meaningful wedding gifts last year…..they got malaria nets for 40 donated in their name.  We (World Aid), support the work of the Free Burma Rangers relief teams, who bring food, medical and dental care, and hope to IDPs in Burma, of a nurse who helps support Karen Women and Children both in Burma and those needing to come across the border for more extensive medical treatment, a nurse practitioner going to provide medical care and education for the Akha people in Thailand, support education projects for IDPs through the Karen Teacher’s Working Group, support those who are trying to rebuild their lives after Cyclone Nargis and more.  These are a few of the ways we can help bear their burdens.  

“God, make me angry, and in my anger, help me to act.”  And please God, don’t ever let me forget the people on the other end, who I may never see, but whose lives will be changed because the body of Christ, and the heart of God, have not forgotten them.

Local Authorities Deny Villagers Food Aid in Chin State

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! 

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=14447

http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2008/20080719.html 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7633986.stm


Cylone Nargis Relief Update-Sept. 24th

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. 

 24th report-27 September 2008–“I found my time to return to Kyaung Zu today. Two of my friends were there last night staying over with the teacher they hired for the 10 grade kids in Taw Kyaung School. There are altogether 24 students from all villages around. They are provided with free tuition by my friends. One of the single-wheel tractor engines is joined with a dynamo for the power to provide lights for the students and the teacher. Free board and lodging are provided to 5 boys and 4 girls out of 24 students staying at our camp. I met my friends at Kungyangon andthey left for Yangon. I have helped shop some of the necessary stuff; with the expert farmer, his assistant and villagers.  Florescent lamp sets and wires were purchased for the students. Some of those are going to be installed at the new bamboo hut (the third one at the camp) some are for adding to the old building. The two buildings are to separate the boys and girls.

 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!” 

8the-height-of-a-plant-we-measured-is-36-inches

8the-height-of-a-plant-we-measured-is-36-inches

A relief team leader

The following post on the Free Burma Rangers web site (link below) is a tribute to their chief medic, Eliyah.  It tells not just his story, but the story about what these teams do, and why, and how, and the ways they serve the people in the ethnic areas of Burma living under the oppression of the Burma Army.  A very powerful post worth reading and sharing and not forgetting.  Some of the images included at the end are graphic, but they are real. 

http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2008/20080909.html