Rangers Complete Additional Relief Missions in Flood-Stricken Chin State25 February 2016 Chin State, Burma
Beginning in early November 2015, Free Burma Rangers (FBR) from Chin State conducted an additional relief mission in Falam Township, responding to the widespread flooding during the monsoon season. Chin State remains one of the most impoverished and underdeveloped regions of Burma, and was severely affected by the rains and landslides which damaged the already aged and/or nonexistent infrastructure of the state. FBR teams visited a total of 14 villages, conducted five Good Life Club events, distributed medical supplies and purchased rice for several of the villages that had either been affected by the floods or ongoing government corruption.
Education in Chin State
The Rangers noted that one of the most pressing concerns in the region was the state of the regional educational system. One village lost a school in the landslides. The central government pledged recovery funds for the school, but as of the time rangers wrote this report, no money had been received. All of the villages that they visited have or have had schools, although the quality and the availability of education varies by economic status. Schools that have since shut down mostly did so due to difficulty surrounding retaining teachers. The rangers noted that several teachers have resorted to making side money by turning their homes into unlicensed guesthouses and hostels. Poorer families in the region tend to lack the ability to help pay for school supplies in government schools and therefore receive subpar education from government teachers or refuse to enroll their children in schools at all. Meanwhile, richer families tend to pay for private home education in recognition of the low quality of government education. Lack of road access has also increased the cost of school supplies such as books and writing implements, making it even more difficult for children in the region to receive an adequate education.
In order to address these concerns, the rangers distributed 160 t-shirts, 16 Good Life Club packs containing household and personal goods, and helped purchase school supplies for children in the villages they visited.
The State of Healthcare in Falam Township
The ongoing lack of infrastructure in Chin State continues to affect the availability of basic medical care and general wellness. The rangers noted that villagers continue to die of preventable diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis, gastritis, and kidney disease. Although Malaria medication is supposedly provided by the Burmese government for free, the availability of these drugs is often nonexistent, leading to unnecessary death. In fact many drugs must be bought from traders, as opposed to more regulated pharmacies or government clinics. Hospital visits for some in Falam Township can also take up to three days by foot, as road infrastructure has yet to be built.
Despite the Chin National Front (CNF) signing the National Ceasefire Agreement in October 2015, the Myanmar government has continued build new camps near the villages of Falam (occupied by Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 264) and Rih (Burma Army LIB 16). Battalions rotate from camps every four months. Villagers have reported that the Burma army does patrol the nearby areas around the camps and that soldiers from the camp often trade with the surrounding villages. As of January 2016 this is still ongoing.
God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers Chin Teams