Enote 07 – Karenni Education Leader

December 19, 2003

News from the Foundation and the Border

This enote comes to you with our wishes that you have a very happy holiday season. We ourselves have good reason to be happy for we have received great gifts from you. Just a short time ago the Foundation exceeded its goal of one hundred thousand dollars in annual giving. After a couple of lean years in 2001 and 2002, this wonderful support by you, our benefactors and partners, is very encouraging. In addition we received a special gift of twenty thousand dollars to start an endowment fund. We have engaged the services of our son Phillip to manage the endowment for us.

Burma is a land of the mixed signals. In our last enote we reported on the increased oppression of the refugees, and possible expulsion of Dr. Cynthia’s people by the government of Thailand, all prompted by the wishes of the government of Burma. We now have heard that over a thousand Karen refugees have fled back to Burma in fear of their safety in the hands of the Thai. Currently many are being forced to move to another camp. The complete story can be found here. On the other hand, we have just received notice that the Karen National Union, KNU, has agreed to a cease fire with the government of Burma.

To quote from that report:

"Burma's junta and the Karen National Union (KNU), one of the last rebel groups waging war against the regime, have agreed to a ceasefire during ongoing peace talks, a top rebel commander said on December 10. Speaking after the return of KNU military representatives from five days of talks in Rangoon, the supreme commander of the KNU's military wing, General Bo Mya, declared to AFP that the Burmese junta’s proposed road map for national reconciliation may be credible and that both sides had ordered their troops to cease hostilities."

For the full article click here .
One never knows how to interpret these announcements, but what ever else it might mean, a cease fire is to be applauded.

Question:
Do you have any persons visiting you on your trip this year?

Answer:
Yes. A couple who have been helping us support a school for Karen children near the Kwai River in western Thailand, have decided to join us in a visit to that school in January. They will do this as part of a vacation trip to Southeast Asia and will spend four or five days with us on that trip.

Meet Ka Law Lah and the Karenni

Ka Law LahOne of the smaller ethnic states in Burma is the Karenni State. It lies between the Karen and the Shan States and Thailand. It has been a policy of the Burmese Army to create in Karenni State a “free fire” zone. The idea is to remove all of the indigenous persons living in the zone to camps near major towns, so they may assume any person found within the zone is an enemy and can be shot.

Because the people are not well cared for or given adequate means to work for their own survival, many persons escape from the camps and go into the jungle areas to live in hiding from the Burmese Army. These people are called Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs. Not being able to settle for long periods of time to raise rice and other crops, these people are desperately poor, and subject to hunger and disease. But they still desire to teach their children.

Ka Law Lah, the deputy Minister of Education for the Karenni government in exile, works in partnership with the Brackett Foundation to help us provide a stipend for IDP teachers of the young children of these people. Our help cannot be much for the need is widespread, but the stories of loneliness, determination, courage and gratitude are worth much more than our annual stipend of about twenty-five dollars.

Current Activities

  • Lead a panel discussion at Colgate on the opening of the show of Chan Chao’s photographic portraits of freedom fighters.
  • Accepted Cristy Ballou as a new member of the Board of Trustees. 
  • Accepted Phillip Brackett as Manager of the Endowment Fund for the Foundation.
  • Preparation for departure to Asia on January 16.

 

Tom & Liz

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