Enote 101 – Twenty-third Trip to AsiaJanuary 15, 2014
After a rather tedious flight -about 28 hours from the airport in Syracuse to lie once again horizontally at the Bangkok Christian Guest House- we woke up to a very troubled city. One party wishes to bring the government down, while another party seeks desperately to remain in power until the elections on February 2. We ourselves had no difficulty with transportation from the airport to our lodging at 1:30 am the previous night, but our friend and TRep for BREF, Doug Offenhartz, reported shooting on his street that night.
The following day we met Sha Bwe Moo, an MS student in Forest Management at Kasetsart University and a director of one of our projects with IDPs in Burma. We met to discuss his progress and that of our project. We learned that the situation for the IDPs has changed little. Sometimes the army is friendly, other times the army shoots mortars into the village. Sha Bwe Moo also told us that he had difficulty coming to us from his place. Many streets have been blocked off requiring extensive walking to still available public transport. We had a good conversation, but he has been very busy and was unable to bring us our report until later.
The next day we were up at 4:00am to catch a flight to India. Normally we spend an overnight in Calcutta, but because we got an early flight, we were able to fly directly to Aizawl the same day. So about 12 hours from our rising in Bangkok we arrived at our hotel in Aizawl. Two or three months ago, I was surprised and delighted to receive an email from Melinda Jackson (Lindy) who said she had just arrived in Aizawl, and after having looked us up on the internet decided that she would see if she could help us in any way. Talk about the unexpected; I can still hardly believe it. I suggested that she could visit some families, and report on their circumstances. That would be of great help to us, because we have had little opportunity to visit them. For many the stories are of courage and determination in the face of sickness and hardship, and a very strong desire for education as a means out of poverty.
Here is one excerpt:"When I asked [Lalrinthangi] if she has enough money to cover her essentials (including her 500Rs. per month rent), she told me that she has a saying that goes, "with the help of God, people are kind to us". [She] receives help from her community and her church and this aid, in combination with her earnings (when she is healthy enough to walk), allows her to make ends meet. Her son's scholarship and the NGO, IVPHEN's, help with her necessary medication also help".
Finally I'd like to introduce you to a new applicant from India, Lalhmingchhuangi. Hemingte's (her nick name) family came from Burma and settled in Champhai. She is the eldest of four children, and when she finished class 7, she could not continue school but was sent to Pune, India - near Bombay about 2 to 3000 miles away to live with her mother's cousin and work as a housemaid for two years. Eventually she was allowed to continue her education through classes 8 through 12 at an SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) school in Pune.
She did well and crossed the country again to attend Nagarjuna College of Nursing (in Andra Pradesh across the lower peninsular of India) to study for a BSc. degree in Nursing. She comes to us after a four day train and bus trip for the interview. Since Champhai is near by she will visit her mother for the first time since 2011. When we asked her, as we often do, had she ever helped another person in need. She immediately told us about her friend with whom she stayed up all night while the latter was having a severe headache, and stayed with her in the hospital the following day. Near the end of the interview, I told her we would surely support her next year in college. It was not a hard decision.
Things are winding down here. Tonight a supper with Lindy and her husband Kyle at the Ritz (it's not very ritzy I can assure you). Tommorrow night a supper At Kianlova's house. And shortly after back to Bangkok where, if the insurgents allow we will meet with TReps to sort out student applications, and on to Mae Sot. Will write again soon.
Best Wishes to all,