Enote 28 – Cynthia Returns

July 01, 2006


The recent news from Burma continues to be bad. Associated with their recent move from Rangoon to Pyinmana, the military government has been driving people from their homes, and many of the Karens have been showing up at refugee camps along the border. For the last several months the Karen Women's Organization has been publishing appeals to the international community to bring news of their plight to the United Nations. Karens have now been in this war for 58 years, roughly the same length of time as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some Karen refugees use the word, "myo dong", meaning genocide.

Dr. Cynthia returns to Hamilton
One of the very interesting aspects of running your own small foundation, is the exciting moments offered. For example two weeks ago, as we were planning a meeting of our Hamilton Advisory Group to help us think through issues related to the long term future of the Foundation, we got news that Dr. Cynthia had returned to this country, and would like to spend some time with us next week, and "could you help arrange transportation from New York on Monday, and departing to Washington on Thursday or Friday". Implicit in the request was some sort of a program to help her meet friends and to give her some sort of exposure to the community. We immediately contacted the refugee communities in Syracuse and Utica, and with their help, setup a reception and talk in Syracuse on Monday, in Utica on Tuesday, and two talks in Hamilton on Wednesday, one of them at a gathering of local doctors (see picture by John Hubbard). In this meeting Mahn Mahn, a medic in her party, described the work of "back-pack" medics who, under very hazardous conditions, venture across the border into enemy territory to bring basic medical care to people hiding from government troops. One doctor who attended the meeting said, "Dr. Cynthia's presentation has inspired us to look within ourselves as to why we became physicians in the first place, and her ability to perform the wonders she does with so little in the way of support humbles us". All this plus a tour of a hospital, a visit with the dean of students at the Upstate Medical Center, and a departing trip to Rochester to catch the flight to Washington. Cynthia and her party were actually present at the meeting of the Advisory Group we had scheduled for Wednesday.

Hamilton Advisory Group:

Liz and I have been preparing for a meeting to consider issues related to succession, and we wanted to have a general discussion on the values and goals most important for our Foundation to preserve in the future. So we convened the Hamilton Advisory Group, a collection of local friends with whom we share ideas about our work and receive helpful questions and comments. This year we were happy to include special guests Erma Rech, from Cazenovia, and Hoppy and Judy Winfield, who traveled to the border with us last February. We hope they will be interested in joining us in the future. An email from a past member of the Group gave us a good start saying, "Reading your message about the future of the Brackett Foundation makes me wish that educational programs here in my own country were handled as thoughtfully. You’ve done a wonderful job of defining a mission and bringing in good people. If ever there was a group that could be counted on to act for the best, this is it." Thank you Mary. 

The Group affirmed our principals of knowing the people you are helping, working as volunteers, keeping small and flexible, and showing a face with experience to our donors, as important to keep as we look to the future for our Foundation. Perhaps the point of biggest difference, is in their instruction to limit our focus to refugees from Burma. Liz and I, while we have no plans to go elsewhere in the world, are certainly aware of many other places where our work could potentially be of value, and we do not wish, unnecessarily to limit the geographic scope of the Foundation.


  • May 8: Talk on our recent trip to Asia at the Hamilton public library.

  • May 17: OSI Discussion of Educational Projects in Burma in New York City.

  • May 24: Talk on our recent trip to Asia at the Cazenovia Common Grounds.

  • Jun. 3: Lunch with Paul Gold and two fellow Colgate Alumni.

  • Jun. 12-15: Visited by Dr. Cynthia, Sophia and Mahn Mahn.

  • Jun. 14: Advisory Council Meeting.

  • Jun. 14: Arranged public talk by Dr. Cynthia and party at the Bookstore in Hamilton.

  • Jun. 21: Follow up talk with Ron & Sue about succession planning.

Best regards to all of you, and please do think about 1.) visiting and working with us next year, and 2.) having us down to visit you and give a talk about our work.


Tom & Liz Brackett

Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.