Rice And Love: Rangers Help in Arakan State
11 April 2023
Zedipyin IDP camp, Rathedaung Township, Arakan State
Ye Chaung Village, situated in Rathedaung Township at the base of a hill occupied by a Burma Army camp, used to be home to 337 families. The Burma Army has so frequently entered the village, killed, and abused the villagers, that the entire village decided they could no longer stay, and moved to an IDP camp. As the people moved out, the Burma Army set fire to many homes in Ye Chaung Village, so that the people now have no place to return. The villagers’ new home has become the Zedipyin IDP Camp: an overcrowded, dirty camp where their shared shelters are made of bamboo and tarps. They have no support and no farms; life in the camp is difficult.
There is a major food shortage across Burma right now due to the nearly two million people displaced from their livelihoods, many of which are farming. Rice is the most-commonly requested item for support these days and there are thousands of people to feed all across Burma. On the opposite side of Burma from Arakan State is Karen State, where farmers have only been able to harvest one-third of their fields at most, because of the ongoing ground and air attacks of the Burma Army. Most people are afraid of the Burma Army’s airstrikes and sleep in the jungle, away from their farms and paddies. As a result, the yield has been significantly lower.
Back in Arakan State, the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) Arakan team wanted to help the situation and asked the IDP camp leaders what they needed. They responded, “We need just the basics to survive: rice, oil, and salt, and we need six to eight months of supply before we’ll have another potential crop.” The Rangers could only arrange to support one month’s worth, a temporary fix to the bigger and ongoing problem all across Burma. But they ordered the rice.
As the Arakan Rangers handed out rice, they told the villagers, “Free Burma Rangers is only a small organization, but we serve a big God, a God that is bigger than the Burma Army. God sees what is happening in Burma and He listens to your prayers. He hasn’t forgotten you. The Free Burma Rangers haven’t forgotten you. We are with you.” As they handed out the sacks of rice they realized that they were handing out more than just the basic necessities to live on, they were also handing out hope and love. The IDPs need months of rice; they don’t know where food will come from next month – but the smiles on their faces as they received just one bottle of oil, one kilogram of salt, and one sack of rice, showed their appreciation. They were not forgotten. Someone stood up for them, stood beside them, and gave what they could to help them. It has been a long war and sometimes hope wanes, but the Arakan team discovered that sometimes a sack of rice is more than just rice.
Please pray for the Arakan IDPs and that FBR can continue to support all the food requests they receive from all across Burma.
Thank you and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers