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 


“Where are your poor?” (poem)

That was the question our friend Rigo, a Nicaraguan pastor, asked when he visited the US for the first time back in 2000.  Where he pastors, members of several warring drug gangs lay down their weapons outside and call a temporary truce before coming into church.  If they come to faith and leave the gangs, there are no jobs.  They cannot support their families.  Unemployment benefits do not exist.  Churches in North America helped raise money to help him start a woodshop where the guys can learn a marketable skill.  They have plans for other projects as well.  

 

“Where are your poor?” our honored guest said.

(I was humbled by his words.

His eyes had observed that our country is rich,

Richer even than what he had heard).

 

In his country many many are poor,

Much poorer than we’ll ever see.

His church gives away what little it has

Just trying to meet their needs.

 

We give a little while they give a lot

(Seems like the reverse should be true).

Forgive us, Lord, for failing to see

How many times we ignore You.

 

Give us hearts to see You, Lord,

In the hungry, poor and cold.

Give us hearts to gladly share

Our lives and the things we hold…

To value our brother

More than our comfort.

To know when we give, we receive,

And that we can never

      out-give Your provision—

Lord, help us live

     what we say we believe!

 

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In Nicaragua, you see the poverty everywhere.  It is not invisible.  Here, it looks like even poor people are rich.  We try to hide our poverty.  But if you look closer, the poor are among us.  God, teach us.

“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.

Remembering the Vulnerable

I heard about some angels today….a teacher in Kent who bought a couple of pair of shoes for one of the refugee kids (one to wear now and one to grow into), Laurel and Chris who dropped off a microwave and towels and some other things for newly arrived refugees, a fisherman friend who didn’t find a tender to sell his fish to and is bringing over 19 salmon to cut up and take to refugee families in Kent today (people struggling with being on the wrong end of the economic food chain who don’t have rent money or jobs right now), a church in Kent who offers Fred Myers gift certificates to student’s familes, the leadership at Quest who continues to partner with the refugee church and community in a variety of meaningful ways (like paying half of the insurance for the community center so the offerings the refugees raised can help pay rents for those who are recently laid off) An angel at church this morning, an angel named Barb, gave me a big bag of warm socks to deliver to folks. I am SO grateful for angels!  

While many people right now are concerned about their own economic future (and present), those in low skilled minimum wage jobs (especially newly arrived refugees with limited English skills and little education) are experiencing a lot of lay offs, and some are having to relocate to other areas of the country where rents are not so high and jobs may be more abundant.  Tough times for many people, but really tough for those on the bottom. They’ve already lost their country, they don’t have homes to lose, or retirements to worry about.  They’re trying to learn how to get by here and now, learn the language, and develop the skills needed to support their families in this country.  Grateful for freedom and safety, but the challenges to still be overcome are enormous! 

While I was looking for statistics to go with this thought, and (sleepless in Seattle), I found this Shane Clairborne video that is SO worth watching….  It’s six minutes long, but stick to the end-the timely financial perspective (even though it’s a year old) is huge.  The images and the music are both worth it. 

Thanks to the angels who continue to remember the vulnerable, and do something about it!

A Nurse’s Work-Karen Community Support

Karen Community Support:  One of the amazing people we get to support through World Aid is a nurse who graduated from SPU a few years ago.  Some of the creative ways she’s been able to use her hard earned skills are highlighted in this report she sent…… 

Medical Support:
Medical and public health training              Field medic kits & materials for medics

Patient Care:
Receive serious cases evacuated from jungle   Care of patient and family throughout their recovery 

Women and Children Projects:
Support of widows and frail elderly   Encouragement to young women in leadership
Distribution of children’s Healthy Living materials

Karen communities stick together and help one another to face all kinds of struggles. Karen Community Support responds to the needs of the most vulnerable—the sick, women and children, and the recently displaced. In addition to support and training for mobile health clinics, over twenty patients from inside Burma were evacuated out to Mae Sot, Thailand last year. They were given long term advanced treatment and support during their recovery. 

 Hope amidst the hopeless — Uncle Nu Lay’s story

Meet “Uncle Nu Lay”. This 69 year old villager has 4 teenagers still living at home with he and his wife. He has had neck pain for a year and recently suffered a painful swelling lump. Most people believed he was going to die, and so nodded sympathetically and passed him by. A Karen leader and dear friend of mine met him and determined to help him—even if there was no cure. Together we sent him to the hospital, where they were able to operate to drain the painful infection he had. Two days later I found him and his wife (so disoriented in the city) quietly sitting on the hospital window sill, listening to the birds sing and the wind rustle the trees. He told me over and over how grateful he was to me and the Karen leader that we stopped to look at him, instead of passing him by. He spent one week recovering in Mae Sot, Thailand, then returned home with his family.

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


Karen Refugee Community Update-Seattle

This recent report from Maggie gives a glimpse into the growing Karen refugee community here, and the challenges people face in resettlement……

       “…Since July, 15 new families and two free cases arrived in Seattle and the total number of refugees has grown from 224 to 284 people.  This number applies only to Karen refugees living in the Seattle area and not to the Chin population and the Karen living in Kitsap county. People are working together helping to meet the needs of the community according to the knowledge, skills, talents, and time they have.

       Within two months, about 50 people got laid off and only 10 people regained jobs so far. Due to language barrier and the lack of education and skill, it is very difficult for these people to find jobs. Some people do have jobs, but they are minimum wage jobs and their incomes barely cover their rent. The families are in a tight financial situation.

       Children  also face difficulties at school because of language barrier and the lack of support at home. Parents have no education to help their children with school work nor have parenting knowledge to discipline their children. Children cannot stay for after school programs to get extra help with school work because they have no transportation.  Parents cannot talk to school counselors to get them more help due to not knowing the language.  Some children are doing so-so, some are doing poorly, but none have gotten into serious problems yet.  Many of the children are at risk of dropping out of school.     

        Despite problems and difficulties, the community is being there for one another. Gay Htoo who was a teacher in Mae La Camp and Naw Dah who has some education help the children with their homework. Johnson got laid off recently and so he has  time to take children as well as adults to doctor’s or dental’s appointments and even to ER and interprets for them. Say La Wah also got laid off so she has time to go to ESL class to improve her English and also takes care of her neighbors’ kids when they have to go to doctor’s appointments. Ku Gay, Htee Haw and Sammy Htoo have lived in Seattle for one year so they show  the new arrivals how to take the bus.  Htoo Htoo and Say Say are errand boys, Pwint and Simon are quick to respond to the community’s needs  and Steve is 911 for the community. 

         Finally, we would like to thank those who have continuously supported us with things such as our community center space, bus tickets, rice cookers, school supplies for the children and other things. We would like to thank Teacher Jenny and the women’s group for their donations. That helps the new families with some of their basic needs and the school supplies for their children.  We will always treasure and appreciate your help and support.”  

       

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

Saffron Revolution-1 year later

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….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5vhNoXsYQc&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAthhH6o9Fc&feature=related

Burma-The revolution that didn’t happen

Update on Refugee Rice Crisis

The information below is taken from the web site of the Thai Burma Border Consortium: (the folks that provide food to the 130,000+ refugees in the camps on the border).  They sent an appeal in May for funds, and here’s how the response that came followed:

TBBC launched this appeal on 30th May when it was almost USD 7 million short of funds to feed the refugees in 2008. Cuts to refugee rations looked almost inevitable and the target set was baht 1.6 million by 30th June (USD $50,000, EUR €32,000, GBP £25,000).

The response was tremendous; the appeal reached its target on time and donations have continued to come in, passing baht 2.67 million (USD $79,000, EUR €53,000, GBP £42,000) by 26th August.

As anticipated, this appeal created a positive fund-raising environment and encouraged other institutional donors to respond. Based on current rice prices and refugee numbers we now expect to be able to fully meet the basic refugee food basket cost at least through 2008.

The appeal will remain open since the challenge of feeding the refugees will continue into 2009 when we will have to face a whole year of high food prices. TBBC expresses its sincere appreciation to everyone who has contributed.

Interested in supporting other initiatives within our programme? Please visit our gift catalogue.

Examples of how you can help

THB 300 ~ US$ 10
~ € 6 ~ UK£ 5
Provides rice for one
refugee for one month
THB 1,800 ~ USD 60
~ € 36 ~ UK£ 30
Provides rice for
one refugee for six months

http://tbbc.org/donate/appeal-friends.htm

Justice or “just-us”?

A friend recently challenged me to articulate what the most important issues to me are this election, and to explain why, as a Christian, I feel those issues are important.  Whew!  I confess to usually being somewhat politically lazy (not feeling like my vote makes any difference…not always doing the actions for responsible citizenship), but after watching friends from Burma who have attained citizenship in the US  demonstrate anew to me the PRIVILEGE I have of being a citizen and being able to have a voice and a vote, I repent.  

Decisions for me usually revolve around to trying to find the principle to base the action on.  The belief and principle that most impacts my coming vote is the firm belief that God calls us to seek justice, and that justice is not spelled “just-us.”  I believe I/we need to interact with the world, our society, our churches, our communities, and our families following the principles spoken of in Micah 6:8, “… What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” and by Jesus in Matthew 7:12, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.”

I believe God is prolife.  Consistently pro-life…“pro everyone’s life,” not only the lives of the unborn (and their parents), and not only those who are demographically, economically, racially, culturally, or religiously most similar to us.  Putting my faith into practice might mean being more actively engaged trying to make sure human rights such as life, liberty, physical security, education, access to affordable medical care, food security, clean water, and affordable shelter become available to everyone.  I am convicted this is not optional.  

Equal access to education, jobs with a living wage, childcare and after school programs, are important to me.  Jesus said the gospel was supposed to be “good news for the poor.”  How do the economic policies we support affect those on the bottom of the economic ladder, both in the US and to those affected by our trade policies in other countries?  How do these policies affect children and families?

I agree with those who say we need to protect and strengthen marriages.  But maybe if we look first at our own lives and the lives of those we love, and then do what we can to strengthen, encourage, love and serve each other, maybe this will do more to protect and stabilize families than scapegoating other people and throwing stones at them ever could?  

I value religious freedom.  Therefore, I need to be respectful to those who practice other faiths, or no faith.  If I want tolerance and respect, I may have to give it.  

We need national policy that supports the human rights standards of international law and strongly opposes torture and inhumane treatment of anyone.  Sorry, can’t say  that one gentler.  Torture is wrong!  

I believe our power as a nation should be used in advocating for justice and respect for human rights in places like Darfur, Burma, and Palestine (and others) and exposing and bringing to justice those who commit ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.  Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God,”  but can peace and democracy really be effectively promoted by starting a war that leads to more people dying and being in poverty, and will leave their country (and ours) paying the price for years to come? 

Mother Theresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  So, the action part….guess I need to commit to being prayerfully, actively engaged in the system, not taking my liberty for granted and living as though I really really believe that the justice God is concerned about is not for “just-us”.    

 

 

 

Cyclone Relief Update

The following is taken from a report written by a friend who recently came back from the parts of Burma hit by Cyclone Nargis:

“Arriving in Rangoon after two decades away, it’s sad to see how the country hasn’t changed for the better for most people with the exception of few “well-connected citizens.”  Weapons traders, gemtraders, good exporters and drugtraders are the well-to-do in New Burma.  Tayza and the likes may be living in 150,000+ square foot castles with 20 cars parked outfront (including 2 humvees, a yellow Lamborghini, a red Ferrari, a black Cadilliac Escalade, a Mercedes S class, amongst many others).  Our modest hotel in the central Rangoon witness many street kids, homeless people barely struggling to make it through the day.  The pothole-ridden roads of the capital and broken down sidewalks are obvious examples of the nonexistent infrastructure. Justice Building is over taken by trees growing out of it’s clock tower, and the clock is broken.  The state of justice from Burma is apparent by looking at the chief justice building. Hotels are given electricity for the illusion of a normalcy for the tourist. Most citizens of Burma rarely experience continuously sustained electricity for more than a few hours every few days.   

Strategic coordination amongst UN agencies, international agencies and local NGOs and CBO group seem to be lacking. Due to UN and NGO’s close affiliation with military regime and USDA (kyant-phut), many smaller local CBOs are hesitant to work in ways that would make them well known. 

Some villages located close range of Yangon/Laputta, where many NGOs are based out of, seem to get repeated donations while harder to reach areas such as Ngaputaw doesn’t see regular aid. 

Distribution of aid is not transparent.  Many villagers including monks in the Ngaputaw township is taught to say to the junta leadership “we got rice, we got condensed milk,” even when they didn’t receive the aid nor the aid received was not  from the government. 

Many companies and government officials are making money from the Nargis related foreign donations. Companies are getting contracts from government/UN/ASEAN body charging $500-600 per hut that they are building in cyclone ravaged areas when we talked to local CBOs that confirm that it should not cost more than $150 per hut.  Building of these over-charged huts are done with forced labor. Another community based organization had built 75 huts for $150 each, but was being pushed out by the new rules of SPDC on cracking down the donor sources and by high costs imposed by big NGOs.  This group has enough funding to continue to build another a thousand huts, however they are being pushed out slowly with new rules every week.

Clean water is not a problem for cyclone survivors at the moment.  Due to heavy rain, rain water is the most efficient clean water accessible to most people.   It will be something to be of concern when the rainy season is over.

For families where head of household is a single mother, there are no financial assistance coming to them to restart their lives.  Farming and fishing supplies provided by NGOs is not enough to go around at the moment that providing some startup seed money to these families for a small business of paan stand or small home made food stand, etc….”

Working with small community based organizations, they were able to deliver resources donated to purchase food for 13 villages, provide a water reservoir that 13 villages can access, pay costs for medicine and transportation for medical teams for four weeks, provide roofing for a monastery/community center, and pay the salary for a teacher for 9 months in a community where there would otherwise be no school.

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To those who have donated to World Aid, Inc., (or any other group helping with needs in Burma!), thank you.  Your donations do make a difference to those needing some help.

 

 

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A stupid little post

In a world with big needs that need big solutions, this is going to be a stupid little post.  Maybe I’m depressed, or maybe I’ve been reading the news too much lately, but somedays the little tiny things I can contribute to make anything better seem so pathetically small I wonder “why bother?”  BUT, then I read something like this post I saw the other day on http://simplymissional.com/2008/07/29/what-is-standing-in-the-way-of-your-dream/ about “What Is Standing in the Way of Your Dream?”  And then I pick myself up off the mat, and am reminded again, as Chris Marlow says in that post, God cares a lot more about people in extreme poverty than I do, and that God’s heart is broken by the needs that are out there that we are all called to help meet.  

I was graphically reminded of that lesson a few years ago when I came home from work and walked in, and my husband (who is amazing!), had come up with a great idea on how to raise money to help support IPDs in Burma (where our hearts are connected to).  “Let’s do a food booth and sell chicken curry at the local county fair.”  My tired brain had two thoughts: a) Cool, a way to help, and b) Where’s the money going to come from?  Now, not being totally stupid, I decided to go upstairs and have a chat with God about thought B (the money issue).  While I was on the way up the stairs to go think about this, the phone rang.  My husband picked up and it was the attorney that had closed the deal on our house six or seven years earlier, and he said he was retiring, and, go figure, he owed us money.  The check was in the mail……he had sent us $800. (Jeremiah 33:3 paraphrased: “…while you’re still asking, the answer’s already on the way…..)  

After I quit crying,  jumping up and down and shrieking in disbelief and gratitude, I was left with the lesson–God cares SO much more than we do.  And if we will do our part, He’ll help us find creative ways to partner with Him.  The food booth did happen.  We had never done this (not sure we’d ever do it again:), but we worked with 40 volunteers from all parts of the community, some  who might never have met each other otherwise, and sold huge quantities of chicken curry at a local very country fair and were able to send $1800 profit to those who needed what that money could provide through World Aid, Inc.  A small thing, but I hope to never lose the reminder it provided to me….show up.  Do what you can.  Do SOMETHING!  Giving up or quitting is not an option.  We are blessed, so we’ve got to find ways to use our blessings to help others.  

Mother Theresa quote for the day: “We are called to do small things with great love”.  

God help us!

Forced Returns of Karen Refugees to Burma

On July 17th, Thai paramilitary forces rounded up 52 Karen from two refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province along the Burma border and, while they permitted 17 students to stay on the Thai side, sent 35 of the refugees across the border to Ei Tu Hta relocation site in Burma.  (See link from Human Rights Watch).   http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/07/18/thaila19401.htm

a) This is wrong! It is called “refoulement” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refoulement) .  These civilians fled the fighting in Burma in early 2008.  Now they are being forced back into an active war zone with the Burma Army.  

 b)  According to an announcement sent out by Partners Relief & Development, “the camp committee arranged 2 weeks of food rations (rice, salt, fishpast and cooking oil) as well as 20 large plastic sheets from their emergency stock and these items were allowed to be sent with this group of people. However the Thai Rangers did not allow any other NFIs such as blankets, mosquito nets, mats, cooking pots, etc to be sent, the reason being given that they have a very limited budget and cannot afford an extra boat for this trip“.   

According to local refugee sources, more forced returns are threatened.  There are currently an estimated 20,000 unregistered people out of the 148,000 in the nine Karen and Karenni refugee camps along the border.  

Help in meeting the basic needs of internally displaced people in Ei Tu Hta can be provided through Displaced Persons Response Network, Partners Relief & Development or World Aid, Inc.