Category Archives: people

Aside

There is an excellent post “Why are there Burmese refugees? Part II: Letter from a student” that describes life in Burma under the military and explains why som eone might prefer to live the restricted life of a refugee camp. Advertisements

The election is over, thousands of new refugees

Now that the election in Burma/Myanmar is over the military junta that rules the country has returned to fighting the ethnic minorities. Fighting between the army and the DKBA (a group that before the elections had accepted a ceasefire and were to be integrated into the Army structure) has driven thousands of people from the town of Myawaddy (across the river from Mae Sot in Thailand). The Thai military are trying to stop them crossing, so many are camped on the riverbank.

Further south near a DKBA headquarters many villagers have fled across the river, and are now sheltering with friends in Thailand, who do not have enough resources to feed and shelter them. Pastor Peacefully from a village near Pho Phra writes:

…our area here (Pho Phra) which 5 km from DKBA headquarters, so many people from that side now crossing to Thailand. For sure the fighting will start sometime. That why many villager are now crossing.

Some of the villagers contact me to help them and prepare some place for them to stay. It is really hard for me because it is depend on the Thai authority. Any way as you know we are the only school which is close to this border, so for those children who want to continuous their study will come to our place.

We need your payer and your help.

Share the news to keep pressure on the government not to do any action of war if their election is true democracy and peace.

We are nothing but we can do something through the One Who strength us.

In His Service

Peacefully

Partners NZ (a relief and development agency who help support the school Peacefully runs) are sending supplies and food to PhoPhra. I’ll try to post updates as I get information. Please do pray for him and his friends at this time! As well as for the overall situation in Burma.

Everyday life

A post on Irin gives a picture of one man’s life in Umpiem camp the extract is just to give an idesa do read the rest:

Maung Win*, 36, an ethnic Arakan, told IRIN about his recent arrest outside camp.

“I leave the camp most days to find work nearby. I leave early in the morning, walk 5km to the area where we wait by the side of the road to be picked up for day labour at 4am, and I return to the camp at 5pm….

Under the surface

A few students from the first year class

Under the surface things are different. On the surface: Thai military check points, barbed wire fences, thousands of people who are not permitted to earn money and houses made of temporary materials; under the surface: a thriving market, a cell phone tower (that the company put up to meet growing demand), and a town with schools, churches, mosque and temples.

Three Karen girls at a Christmas celebration

People too. A teacher, invites us round to his house after the staff meeting. He delights in in an unlikely name drawn straight from British tales of medieval dareing do, is tall and fragile looking with big soft eyes and a gentle smile.

Back in Rangoon he was arrested as a “terrorist” suspect and tortured for information  about the KNU. The experience was so bad that, when he was free again, this gentle man decided to kill his three torturers. He calculated that he would be sentenced to three years each in jail, and that nine years of his life was a good trade.

God intervened, in a night of prayer he realised that if he killed the colonel and his assistants he would “send them straight to hell”. Instead he became an evangelist. He tells with admiration the tale of the first Karen Christian, Ko Tha Phu, he had just five sermons but with them he converted so many Karen.

Land of beautiful hill country (you did wonder why Thais call them "hill tribes")

He was arrested again, tortured again, jailed in a small cell with five Communists. He converts his cell-mates, and turns them into a prayer group. Their praise and worship sessions last longer than the Buddhist chants from the monks in other cells, though his new flock balk at 24 hour prayer and settle for just three sessions per day, like the Muslims.

Kawthoolei is a beautiful land of farms and hills

The sweet smiling children too often hide horrific stories. Or have seen things no one should see. This long-running war has produced its share of sadists and atrocities. But mainly on one side. Last time we were here we visited Dr Cynthia’s Clinic in Mae Sot and were told how some Burmese soldiers brought in three comrades who had been injured by mines. The father of an orderly who was in the room was pastor of a village these same soldiers had recently burned. They were not turned away, but received first aid, and passed on (with a sigh of relief?) to the Thai hospital which could treat them better.

One thing is the same on and under the surface, the hope that one day Kawthoolei the “land without evil” as the Karen homeland is called will not merely be a place of farms and misty hills, but again in truth a land without evil, and a home.

Barbara’s Birthday

College chapel each weekday morning

Since her birthday comes in the NZ holiday season Barbara is used to having somewhat muted celebrations on the day, and then an “official birthday” with family and presents sometime later when we are all home again.

That was the pattern we expected this year, just the two of us in a refugee camp did not seem the setting for a conventional Kiwi Birthday celebration.

At lunch our Danish colleagues brought a very fancy cake

The first surprise was during college chapel, when Dr Simon announced her birthday and the whole company, 250 students plus staff sang “Happy Birthday” including a verse about “long life to you”, then the treat, lollies were distributed to all attenders!

At lunch another surprise our Danish colleagues had slipped away, and into Mae Sot, and bought a really flash birthday cake complete with impressive icing sugar roses.

The Cake: Just look at those roses!

The family and I will have to try hard in a week or two to match her birthday here! Even if one or seven too many people did ask how old she was 😉

She was also so moved by the gift of a beautiful pashmina from one of the teachers. That someone who has so little, living in rooms in friends’ houses and moving as their family needs require, should want to give such a lovely present, is very humbling.

Visit a Karen village on the Thai-Burma border

Your chance to join us and visit a Karen village on the border in Thailand. We’re planning to spend ten days in a Karen village doing something useful (possibly an English language intensive in a school or Bible school) though a big part of the reason for going is simply to meet people. At the end there would be a few days for either a trek or shopping (in BKK or Chaing Mai). That plan would take up the NZ school holiday in July 2009 (which is also in the NZ University holiday period).

This is the refugee camp, not the vilage we'll visit, but it gives an idea of the beauty of the area!

This is the refugee camp, not the village we'll visit, but it shows the beauty.

The cost will be your airfare plus a share of transport (probably in rented van) from Bangkok to Mae Sot and beyond, a few nights in a cheap hotel or guest house, food during the “holiday” days and a gift for the people who feed and lodge us (hopefully both some small thank you presents and a contribution to the school or Bible school). Several of these costs, most notably the airfare can change quite a bit, currently it looks like around NZ$2,500 as a rough estimate, unless we choose an expensive holiday option 😉

The Thai-Burma border

The Thai-Burma border

Accommodation will be (by Western standards) basic and probably Marae-style, and food will be local (but with “not too much chilli”) nutritious and prepared with love. The main “work” will be sharing with people and getting to know them and their world, but we hope also to achieve something worthwhile as well.

If you are interested in principle, and free on those dates, please let me know (tim at carey.ac.nz) as we can sharpen the ideas and costs when we know better who is likely to be coming! If you are not interested

The Karen and charming people!

The Karen are charming people!

yourself, but know someone else who might be please do pass this link on. (People starting from other places than NZ could arrange to meet up with us in Bangkok.)

The photos attached are just to give you an impression of the beauty of the country and people we’d be visiting – few travel agents can do better, and none at a better price!

A New Day for Burma

Ruth posted a link on the Partners site to a post and a song by Holly Brown. I’ll copy part of Holly’s post below, because her response to a visit to Mae La is so similar to mine (see Leaving with more than photos) but first I’d like to appeal to you since this is the twentieth anniversary of the seizure of power of the gang of generals who so brutally rule Burma to send an e-card to your representative. It is so easy to do, a few minutes at most! And then email this link http://www.newdayforburma.org.au/#ecard around any friends you think would be willing to send a card too. If we could get thousands of these cards (or other messages) sent to politicians perhaps our governments pragmatism would lead them to do the right thing!

Holly wrote:

Another image I have is that of a father explaining his anguish that he had to leave one of his children behind. He will never know if the child is alive, dead, or captured by the army. And he will have to live with the guilt of making that decision. But the image that shouts the loudest in my mind is the hope. When asked what will change the Burma army a man once answered, “They need the love of Jesus.” In the midst of so much pain and suffering, the Karen cling to forgiveness and hope. And this hope is from God. A new day is dawning in Burma. A day where fear is not their consuming thought. Where running will be done for the pleasure it brings. A day where people are free. And it is through the power of the love of Jesus that this day is coming. And I ask you…. How can you show the love of Jesus?

This is her song:

Always running, never ceasing, under darkened skies
Heading eastward through the mountains and cross the river wide
Lost my mother and my father on the day the soldiers came
Burning houses, hurting people, its never been the same
How long will this last, when will this war end?
How long till it’s past and there’s justice in the end?
Always hungry, ever thirsty, never satisfied
Seeking shelter in the jungle and running to survive
How long will this last, when will this war end?
How long till its past and there’s justice in the end?
And I will wait on my feet again
For the skies to clear and sun to shine again
And I will pray on my knees again
For this hate to pass and love to rule again
And I will stay in this place again
A place where hate and fear cannot steal my heart
And I will pray on my knees again
For you love to warm and melt this heart of stone.

You can download the MP3 here.