The following is a photo essay that reflects what we see here in Northern and Western Karen State. We are on our fourth month of missions here and there is more good news than bad.
There is all around us the reminders of the dangerous presence of the Burma Army –burned homes, displaced people and two villagers we met today who are from the plains and who escaped into the jungle after being beaten and tortured with boiling water by the Burma Army. In spite of this we see good things too and see that the story here is one of life and hope.
Last week, I was talking to a journalist friend who had walked in to write a story. We stood on one side of a field where the Good Life Club counselors (that are on every relief team) were leading the children in songs, dances and in learning anatomy and hygiene. At the same time my own children were racing their ponies up and down the field bareback and the IDPS were laughing as they watched, while on the other side of the field medics were giving medical and dental treatment.
The journalist turned to me laughing and said, Who can I sell this story to? Where is the attacking Burma Army and fleeing people? Everyone here is laughing and having a great time. Maybe I could sell this story to a circus magazine!
As I thought about it, I realized that this was the story. People laughing, playing and receiving help. People rebuilding and opening the way for their own development; this is the story and it is one of hope and a good life. The Karen people here are not close to giving up even though the Burma Army has burned thousands of homes and displaced almost everyone in this area. There are more clinics and schools in this area now than 10 years ago. In this area, the Burma Army built 103 new camps between 2006 and 2008 as well as starting three new roads in order to expand their control over the population. Due to the activities of the resistance (Karen National Union), only one road was completed and even this one is not useable. Also, over 40 camps have been abandoned as the Burma Army could not sustain them against a tenacious resistance.
Most important is the resilience of the people and how they keep rebuilding. As soon as a Burma Army unit has returned to their base, they come out of their hiding places and return to their fields and rebuild their villages.
We do not know what the future holds, but we do know it is good to be here with these people and the new relief teams as they give help and love and receive the same.
Thank you for your care and help and for being part of this team.
May God bless you,
A relief team leader
Free Burma Rangers
Karen State, Burma
|Good Life Club program North Western Karen State Jan 2010|
|Good Life Club program North Western Karen State Jan 2010.|
|Home burned by Burma Army Oct 09|
|Karen families recieve dental treatment Jan 2010|
|Karen families recieve medical treatment Jan 2010|
|Ranger in Burma Army camp abandoned by 507 Battalion Jan 2010|
|Remains of Bible in burned home Jan 2010|
|Returning from GLC program with gifts from around the world Jan 2010.|
|Teachers in IDP site Jan 2010|
|Villagers in hiding after being tortured by Burma Army Jan 2010|
|Cowgirls entertain the people, January 2010|