Enote 40 – Cross-border Aid

December 18, 2007

Items across my desk:

Cross-border aid may be the only way we can help people like this young woman:
Girl with BabyCross-border aid, in our context, means aiding people currently living in Burma from an adjacent country such as Thailand or India. It has some risks, because the aid must be carried in, usually across enemy lines to reach the intended people. In fact earlier this year we received an email from one of our Karen contacts that a leader of one of our schools traveling back to his IDP community inside Burma, was ambushed by the enemy, and in the ensuing fracas lost his leg to a landmine. Cross-border aid is also rejected by some support agencies because the support is hard to trace, and in this day of terrorist fear it is possible to come under government suspicion and scrutiny. Never-the-less in those cases where the government is hostile to its own people, cross-border aid may be the only way to help them. We have been doing it for at least six years starting with the Karenni Teachers Project in 2001. Others are now beginning to catch on. We quote from a statement of the Department for International Development, the major aid agency of the UK. "The UK's expansion of aid for Burma should include specific funding for cross-border assistance. Whilst providing aid in this way is far from ideal in terms of neutrality or safety, it is the only way to reach very vulnerable IDPs located throughout Burma's conflict border zones, including those areas that border Thailand." We currently have a proposal submitted to the International Foundation to increase our cross-border aid.

Children on the border:

Despite the recent uprising Burma's campaign against the ethnic people has continued with increasing vigor sinceBoarding House January. Now we learn that children separated from their parents are arriving in greater numbers along the border seeking refuge. Dr. Cynthia has made a special appeal for boarding houses, and schools for these children. The picture on the right shows a temporary shelter for boys at Dr. Cynthia's Mae Tao Clinic. Prompted by this special appeal, we made application to the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation for funds to support additional boarding house and school capacity at Dr. Cynthia's and a other places along the border. We recently received news that we were awarded $20,449 for this project.


Not only was November busy, but because we were out of the country in Brazil for two weeks, December is also very busy.

This month we have, in no particular order. been: planning our next trip to Asia, (we leave on January 8), meeting with Trustee representatives and visitors, finalizing details on our grant agreements, making support payments to our students, writing and mailing our December newsletter, and counting our blessings (see below).


It's the season to be jolly so let me close by mentioning some of the many gifts we have received this year, and which serve as pleasant memories at this time.

  • "...to the Bracketts and staff: Your unselfish dedication to those in need of a helping hand is the finest example of how so few can help so many. I applaud your efforts. You exemplify the finest traits of human behavior in a world awash with stories of cruelty and wanton destruction. You are a beacon of hope, and for that I thank you."

  • "I very much appreciated your statement of purpose and wholeheartedly endorse it. I've been giving a lot of thought this summer to focusing on where I should place my time, energy and money, given that there's no longer all that much of any of them! I particularly like your statement that 'our foundation seeks not to dwell on the threat of terror and evil in the world. We wish to bring a gentler message of kindness and support...' You are certainly examples of what one person (in your case, two) can do."

  • "You're to be commended for your non-political response to 9/11, certainly a proper and necessary one for the foundation take. What I believe we as individuals and as a nation can learn from the 9/11 experience: That Wells was right in seeing human history becoming 'more and more a race between education and catastrophe'-- thus any response by individuals, nations and foundations must come down firmly on the side of education-- certainly the Brackett Refugee Education Fund comes down squarely on a crucial side."

  • "You two are amazing. When we grow up we want to be you." This written by friends who have also spent the last ten or so years of their lives working for the people of Burma.

Although final figures for this year are not complete, we can already say that the support we have received from donations and grants has exceeded that in past years by a substantial margin.

For these gifts and many others like them, and for your constant, generous support we and our refugee friends are, as always, deeply in your debt. 

Tom Brackett

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