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Leadership and relief team training – May 2002

Ten teams from the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Pa-O, and Arakan ethnic groups completed leadership and relief training organized by the National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Karen State of Burma.

The teams then deployed on relief missions to assist the internally displaced people (IDP) of Burma. The primary purpose of the teams is to give love, hope and emergency assistance to the over one-million ethnic IDPs fleeing attacks of the Burma Army. The teams also work to strengthen civil society through setting an example of service and cooperation.

Teams work in building capacity among community leaders, public health workers, teachers, and pastors as well as recording and reporting human rights violations inflicted on the IDPs by the Burma Army. This training follows earlier training and over 40 relief missions by teams since 1997 in the Karen, Karenni, and Shan States.

The ten teams at the May 2002 training are comprised of three Karen four person teams, two Karenni four person teams, one Shan four person team, and five team leaders of Arakan, Pa-O, Karen, and Karenni teams. Each four-person team consists of a team leader, senior medic, counselor or pastor /vidoegrapher, and human rights documenter/photographer.

The teams are open to any man or woman of any ethnic group and faith who has the physical ability and courage to walk great distances into conflict areas, is literate in at least one language, and most importantly has a love for the people and a desire to help.

The teams received training in leadership, leadership development, planning, organization, logistics, public relations, the strengthening of civil society , proposal writing, first aid, mass casualty care and triage, dentistry, public health, labor and delivery, AIDS training, communication theory and practice, counseling, interviewing techniques, human rights documentation and general reporting, photography, video, land navigation-day/night, compass and map reading, field sketching, swimming and lifesaving, river crossing/expedient bridges, mountaineering/rappelling, movement in the field, evacuation of IDPs and security concerns over a three week period.

A two day field training stress exercise simulating a compressed relief mission was the final activity of the training. After graduation teams were issued funds for transportation, food, necessary team equipment (backpacks, hammocks, canteens, flashlights, compasses, cameras and film, video cameras and film, plastic sheets, shoes, notebooks and pens, watches, t-shirts, shorts, and web gear), and funds to render emergency assistance to IDPs. The teams were also issued enough medicine to treat 2000 people each, dental supplies, public health and general educational materials, sporting goods, supplies for children (Good Life Club packs of vitamins, gifts and messages of love from children in Canada, US, Europe and Australia), cassette tapes (programs of Leadership, Cooperation, and Human Values in their own language) and cassette player, solar panels and batteries, bibles, hymbooks and gospel tracts (for Christian areas), and donated clothing. Teams will complete their missions no later than August 30, 2002 and submit their reports, film and video tapes.

An after-action review and report will be conducted and the teams will be re-deployed into the areas of greatest need. Thank you to all those who supported this training and the deployment of the teams.

God bless you,