Enote 38 – VideosSeptember 10, 2007
It has been a very busy season for us. Our Foundation having been established on April 1, 1997, our tenth anniversary has given us the opportunity to look back and review our work.
At the Fourth of July celebration, we met a Mark Finkelstein who hosts a public access television in Ithaca, and he invited us to appear to be interviewed about Burma, and our work with the refugees. Both Liz and I found it interesting and worthwhile. I was able to download the show and you can get it at http://brackett.colgate.edu/TV/ra_20070823.mpg. Depending on the browser you have, simply clicking on the file may start a download which is very long, over ½ hour. It is best to start your player, then under File click Open URL and give the above address. This should start the broadcast immediately. It runs for just under an hour. See a couple of pictures from the show below.
Also prompted by a challenge grant from the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, we mounted a special campaign to raise money for our endowment. We created a special mailing to a few donors including a description of our accomplishments over the last ten years. We had until September 3 to raise $20,000. I am very happy to report that as of August 23, we raised $24,324. This is not to say that we are finished. Knowing that we want our work to continue after us, we wish to continue raising funds for our endowment to provide financial security to our organization so that it may support new ventures and work for refugees in the future.
Finally we have been seeking support from other foundations for our work. Currently we have proposals under consideration by the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, the Mary Lynn Richardson Foundation and the B. K. Kee Foundation for support of schools, and boarding houses in Thailand and students in India.
Now as I write, we are preparing for our annual fundraising campaign.
On The Border:
It also has been a very busy season for the refugees. The refugees came to the border in large numbers in 1988 after the student uprising of August 8th (8/8/88). Charity and church groups organized on an ad hoc basis to respond to a crisis which was expected to be on a temporary basis. But the refugees did not go away.
Finally after 19 years, several nations are opening their borders to accept Burmese refugees for resettlement. Many are overjoyed with the prospect of going to a foreign country where they will at last be free. Thailand is also pleased to be able to reduce the numbers of refugees in its camps. But the transition is not so easy.
Those that are accepted for resettlement, generally are the better educated. Thus teachers, health care workers, and leaders are leaving others behind. This puts great strain on those NGOs who are attempting to care for those who remain.
Also the Tatmadaw (the Burmese Army) has stepped up their brutal campaign against the Karen and their cousins the Karenni. So many new refugees are now coming to the border. So many have been able to enter the camps, that their size has not been decreasing, but the Thai in response have arrested some and returned them back to Burma. The picture on the right shows an entrance to Mae Hla Camp where more than 100 unregistered refugees were arrested on July 24. These people are rounded up into trucks, brought to Myawaddie, a Burmese town just across the Moei river from Mae Sot and delivered to the army. There, if they have money for a bribe, they can be released to try again. The tragic lot for most refugees is, nobody wants them. Also the children, many times separated from their parents, are coming to the border in large numbers. Schools and boarding houses are filled to overflowing. Dr. Cynthia reported that in one place 120 children had to be turned away because there was simply no room. The call to us is clear. We must work even harder to help provide for these communities.
Even Hollywood is getting involved. Many have visited the border area and the refugees. The following article, http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=8476 , mentions Jim Carrey, Eric Szmanda, Walter Koenig, and Angelina Jolie, all have been there. I guess anything that helps publicize the plight of the Burmese refugee is worth the effort. Also I should note the article refers to the movie "Beyond Rangoon", starring Patricia Arquette. It's not a great film, but its not bad, and gives a good idea the circumstance in 1988. I'd suggest those who haven't seen it and have Netflix give it a try.
As we think about our refugee friends, and all that we have done for them over the very difficult decade they have come through, we realize that it is you our supporters whose generosity has made this possible. We are, as always, deeply in your debt.