Field Report: Hope in Desperate Need in Doo Tha Htoo District, Karen State
6 March 2023
Karen State, Burma
In this area of Burma, the atmosphere is thick with tension: the knowledge that all-out war and chaos could erupt at any moment lies heavy on the land. Here, everyday commodities are becoming harder to access and prices have almost doubled on necessities – but Ranger teams dole out the commodities of help, hope and love freely and in generous proportions. On this mission, Free Burma Ranger relief teams spread help, hope, and love in Tha Htu and Bilin townships of Doo Tha Htoo District, Karen State, at a rate of over 1500 people per week.
For two weeks, Ranger teams threaded through numerous Burma Army positions to provide village medical and Good Life Club programs. The team talked to over 25 schools, and put on Good Life Club (GLC) programs for 1965 children. FBR medics brought medicine and often worked day and night giving love and care to those who needed it; they treated over 1500 patients in village programs, but continued to treat many more patients during travel days, rest days, and even the middle of the night. Seven of the FBR team got malaria during the mission but didn’t let it slow them down and continued to participate.
FBR teams also helped to facilitate village improvement projects in the area, building school dorms and classrooms for two high schools still operating while the government-run schools have all been shut down and abandoned. The teams also helped with infrastructure projects in two villages, installing water pipes that allow the villages to access water sources and get water to the houses in the village. Ranger teams visited a junior college for a morning and encouraged the students to pray with faith, act with courage, and never surrender.
Tha Htu, Bilin and Kyet Htu townships of Karen State hold more than 300 Border Guard Force (BGF – Burma Army proxy force) and Burma Army camps and outposts. With paved roads and direct access to Yangon (a two-hour drive from Bilin), the Burma Army moves troops and armored vehicles in and out of the area frequently. It is a daily fight to control land and roads, and the control changes almost daily between the Burma Army and resistance. Burma Army airplanes, drones and helicopters can be seen flying overhead daily, and Burma Army jets continue to bomb in the cover of night. On January 17, the Burma Army dropped two bombs in the middle of the night on suspected Karen Army locations in Bilin Township. Mortars can be heard almost every day in the district.
“I’ve done countless GLC programs,” one senior FBR leader commented, “but I have not seen kids laugh so much as they did these past weeks.” The commodity of hope was one that was in desperate need in the villages. The everyday threat and uncertainty of air and ground assaults wear on people’s nerves. In response, Ranger teams storm villages with a vengeance, armed with guitars and balloons and smiles; the kids all go home after the program with a warmth in their hearts. They are loved. They are not forgotten.
Please continue to pray for the villages in Tha Htu and Bilin townships, that the messages of hope and salvation would take root and grow.
Thank you and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers