Enote 72 – Internally Displaced People

June 29, 2011

Dear Friends,

One of the lesser known outrages caused by the civil war in Burma, is the number of ethnic people who have been driven from their homes by the government soldiers and are now living either in relocation camps or hiding in the jungle.

The map on the right, prepared by the Thai Burma Border Consortium, shows IDP hiding areas in green, the cease fire areas in pink, and the IDP relocation -some say concentration- camps as pink dots. All of these are located in the Shan, Karenni, Karen, and Mon ethnic homelands of eastern Burma. The civil war has been waging for over 50 years, and by the time this map was prepared there were close to 1/2 million IDPs throughout eastern Burma.

Through us, you have been supporting teachers and schools in both Karenni and Karen states in the green areas in Karen and Karenni states since 2001. In this note, I would like to tell you about just one of these projects carried out in northern Karen state.

We first met Blaw Htoo as a student at Mahidol University in Bangkokin 2003, where we supported his study in Biology. Now he works as an environmentalist studying the effects of war on the environment. He has a special concern for these detrimental effects because they are endangering the beauty of his own homeland. His work brings him two or three times a year to his home in northern Karen state, and thus he is able to visit the people and the schools in the area. Through his willingness to undertake the arduous and dangerous task of travelling from Thailand to his home inside Burma, we are able to support the Bwa Ker Taw schools project.

Map of SBMs Area

The map on the right shows the area of Blaw Htoo's home in Karen state, and shows 4 schools and one school clinic which you support through BREF. It also shows four military camps which are a constant threat to the saftey of the villages in the area. Blaw Htoo's travels to the schools is shown as the yellow line. We are informed that the Eden Garden middle school (seen in the upper left) will change its name to the Paw Lu Paw middle school, and may be promoted to a high school soon. The Animist primary school (in the upper right) is perhaps the only school of its type in an IDP area. In an attempt to educate the children in their heritage, this school teaches Karen dance, song, poetry, ancient script, and ancient legends in addition to the standard primary school curriculum.

I end with a short message from Blaw Htoo. The Bwa Ker Taw Karen Indigenous Middle School is like a dark side of the moon to most people of the world.  It is only few people on the Thai-Burma border who know about it. But luckily this school has special friends from aboard [that's you] who have been taking care of them for many years. Now, many students from Bwa Ker Taw have graduated from high school and post-ten levels. So both Bwa Ker Taw students and villagers thank you very much for helping them to build a school that help students to develop both in educational and cultural ways.

Activities:

  • June 3 Picked up Chris at NYC on his return from Thailand. He left for Colorado on June 29.
  • June 9 Gave a talk to the local Rotary on our waork.
  • June 14 Liz departed with our daughter Sally to Brazil so her two children could become better acquainted with their father's heritage.
  • June 17 left for Cape Cod and shared Father's Day with my 4 sons, all of them fathers.
  • June 30 Gave a talk to nearby Rotary Club on our work.
  • Most of May and June spent reasearching grant opportunities and writing proposals.

During this difficult season, an economy still struggling to recover, our country still engaged in two or more wars, our government in turmoil, scandals and corruption flourishing, even the weather causing problems, I pray we all have the courage to do what is right and good for our friends and family, and our fellow countrymen.

My Best Wishes to all of you,

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

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