The following video by France24 is work a few minutes…footage of those fleeing the military junta and DKBA attack in Burma….and discusses the history of the conflict….
Kids are the most awesome ice breaker. Start with a family of three working (English only speaking) adults, add a family from Burma (a dad and two daughters , age 9 & 11 speaking Burmese and Karen-little English) in the process of being resettled to the US from a refugee camp in Thailand, put together in an apartment for two weeks and what do you get? A recipe for some of life’s better moments.
Start with lots of vegetables, add a huge quantity of rice and fish sauce, mix with liberal amounts of curry and laughter. Throw in lessons on recycling, can openers, garbage disposals, dishwashers, running water, teapots that stay hot, and some pantomimes of going out, coming in, time to sleep, and “Ten Apples Up on Top” for some diligent eager students. Show a video done by kids doing relief work in Burma with their parents (www.freeburmarangers.org) and you will find a way, in spite of language barriers, for the dad to communicate that he was an IDP, packing his possessions on his back as he fled from the Burma army. The girls were born in the refugee camp and this is the first time they have ever been free. Give thanks with a grateful heart for food, shelter, safety, family, new friends, and the grace of God to cross borders, boundaries and language barriers as you pray the agency resettling them will find an appropriately priced apartment in our very expensive city….
Practice price comparisons at Ballard Market and Viet Wah. Glimpse how overwhelming Costco can be while getting a deal on a rice cooker for their new apartment. Play with scrabble pieces together practicing showing love through laughter and phonics and listening….Stop, look and listen at cross walks. Wear seat belts.
Grateful once again for the incredible gift of community, and how truly amazing grace is. Reminded once again you don’t have to be especially gifted to be able to touch someone’s life. You just have to show up, and be willing to treat someone else like you would want to be treated if you were a stranger in a strange land. It’s SO worth it. Glad again, that even quiet bookkeepers who like to cook Thai food and have a house full of people have a place in the kingdom of God. Grateful. Very grateful!
Give thanks for all those partners on this journey: Deanza, who brought a doll house that is getting MUCH use, Kate & Janelle and a friend who took the family to the aquarium last Saturday, Mona and Rosie who have translated by cell phone across different states and in person (and brought an amazing meal), Dr. Tao for advice, our daughter Ginny for being willing to share our space and befriend those in it, Linda for being an amazing friend, example, translator, and either big sister or new auntie to her delighted new friends, Maggie for being a caseworker or pastor (I have a really hard time telling the difference on most days as I watch her shepherd those God has placed around her!), Tim for the balloons we used to play volleyball in the living room in the evening without disturbing the neighbors, Gary & Gloria, Bethany (who suggested to her friend the case manager to call Deanza), the folks at World Relief, and the list goes on…
PS When this opportunity first came up, I thought it looked like a good fit, but I hesitated to ask my husband what he thought ’cause it was his schedule that would have to get monkeyed with to make it work. But he took the bait too, and has proven, again, to be amazing. I don’t think he ever saw himself as a teacher before, but he excels at it. Funny how both time and hearts can expand to make room for what needs to fit in them. Funny too, how once you let people in to your heart, normal is over. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
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?
News from Thailand the last few weeks has not been great…
- Refugees set adrift in boats with no motors, left to drown, die or wash up on someone else’s beach… Thailand to tackle problem.
- Christians and Muslims told they are not to worship even in their homes in Rangoon….
- DKBA troops crossing from Burma into Thailand near No Poe refugee camp-attack feared…
- Cyclone Nargis volunteer sentenced to 10 years for helping people…
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.
Praying for light…..
Below is an update received from friends in Thailand on the food crisis in the refugee camps…
Donors Responding to Border Food Crisis
During the last few months the Thailand Burma Border Consortium has been appealing for attention to a pending crisis for over 140,000 Burmese refugees along the Thailand Burma border due to soaring rice prices. Just two weeks ago there was serious concern that unless a funding shortage of US$6.8 million (EUR 4.3 million) was addressed, refugee rations might have to be cut by up to one half.
At a crucial meeting last night it was possible for the TBBC Board to postpone any decision on ration cuts until its next meeting scheduled for 13th August due to a combination of a significant improvement in the funding situation and an easing of rice prices. Although there is still a funding shortage of USD 3.5 million (EUR 2.3 million) the reduced shortfall allows another two months to resolve the problem.
“We are extremely grateful to the Canadian Government who this week announced an additional contribution of C$ 1 million (USD 1 million, EUR 650,000) for 2008, the UK Government for an additional contribution of GBP 330,000 (USD 600,000, EUR 425,000) and many other donors and friends who have contributed smaller amounts at this critical time” said Jack Dunford, TBBC’s Executive Director, “After a very worrying time, rice prices also appear to be falling and with foreign exchange rates improving slightly everything is now hopefully moving in the right direction”.
The situation remains fragile with rice prices still volatile. Fund raising is ongoing to address the US$ 3.5 million shortfall and responses are awaited from the US, Spanish and Australian governments amongst others. “We are hopeful that Royal Thai Government may also be able to help”, commented Mr. Dunford.
“The future for Burma remains very uncertain after Cyclone Nargis and further migration cannot be ruled out” he added. “There are likely to be many new challenges ahead for refugees and displaced people, but it has been crucial to maintain stability on the border during these uncertain times. I am increasingly hopeful that we can solve the short term crisis. We still need to raise the balance outstanding but then we will be in a position to respond as the situation develops”.
TBBC Deputy Executive Director
See their web site at tbbc.org
High food prices here in the US means (for a lot of us middle class folks who have choices) we buy less of some of what we like, shop smarter, and eat out less. For the rest of the world, the cost of high food prices is much higher….refugees in camps in Thailand are having their rations cut (these were rations, not excesses!). The following is an appeal received from friends in Thailand, put out by the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (www.tbbc.org) which has provided for the refugee camps housing, at the moment 140,000+ people from Burma.
TBBC, FAMILY AND FRIENDS APPEAL
Support refugees from Burma: put rice in the pot
Today, more than 140,000 refugees from Burma are living in nine camps along the Thailand Burma border. Unlike most other situations around the world there is no United Nations-coordinating mechanism responsible for these refugees. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), a non-profit organisation, provides all of the food to these camps and must raise its own funds. Rice is the main ingredient of the refugees’ food basket, the price of which has been seriously affected by the global food crisis.
During 2008, rice prices have more than doubled. Unless more funds can be raised quickly to cover the increased cost, TBBC will have to cut the refugee food rations to as little as 50% of the international minimum standard required to sustain life. World attention is currently focused on the victims of cyclone Nargis and once again, we are witnessing the incapacity and unwillingness of the military junta to respond to the needs of its own people.
The people of Burma have suffered decades of human rights abuses, civil war and economic mismanagement and for 24 years, TBBC has been providing assistance to those who have had no choice but to flee to the border. These refugees must not be forgotten. Before fleeing to Thailand, they suffered serious human rights abuses including forced labour, rape and torture and most have lost everything they owned as their villages were destroyed by the army. The refugees from Burma are confined to camps but if TBBC cannot support them with adequate food, they will be compelled to leave the camps, risking arrest, abuse, exploitation, and possible deportation back to Burma. We can expect to see serious malnutrition and health problems within a matter of weeks. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk. We are appealing to all traditional donors including governments to help us through this crisis. But we are also challenging ourselves as staff, friends and families. We believe that the huge network of family and friends we all have will make a difference.
We are setting ourselves a target of Thai baht 1.6 million (USD 50,000, EUR 32,000, GBP 25,000) by the end of June. That would be enough to provide rice to 1000 refugees to the end of 2008. A contribution of just baht 300 (US$10, EUR 6, GBP 5) would cover the cost of rice for one refugee for a whole month, baht 1,800 (US$60, EUR36, GBP30) for the entire second half of 2008.
We can make a difference – even a little means a lot.
Donations can be made online at their web site: www.tbbc.org for those who are interested.