Enote 98 – An Interview

October 05, 2013

Dear Friends, 

Recently Liz and I had lunch with a friend and supporter of our work with refugees.Saw Bwe Dern StudentsWe recalled that as a donor he was a person who really does his homework. When we first met him to talk about our foundation, he had prepared a lot of serious questions to ask. Evidently we passed the test because he became a valued supporter. Well, he said I still have some questions for you. It was a interesting discussion and we thought you might like to listen in:

Q1: Do you work with many orphans?

Ans: Asians use the term orphan differently than we do. Also the war has been very destructive of the normal family. Some parents have died from injuries or sickness, others have divorced, so there are many families with only a single parent, and poverty has left many parents simply unable to care for their children. In some cases a parent will come to Dr. Cynthia's clinic to deliver a baby, and then simply abandon the child to the care of the clinic staff. Furthermore some children will leave Burma by themselves to find a better education. Many of these children are called orphans. We help children wherever we find them. A few are true orphans.

Q2: What is the relative amount of money you spend on University, Secondary, & Primary education?

Ans: That one gave us pause because we did not have the various figures at the top of our heads, but we have since reviewed our financial history and find in 2013 we are spending 56% on College and University scholarships, 12% on High School students and 32% on elementary education.

Q3: Where can the refugees best go to live in peace?

Ans: Another great question; one that is at the top of the minds of all refugees everywhere. The best possibility for most Burmese refugees is to resettle in the West. (By the West I mean, the US, Canada, Australia and some Scandinavian countries.) Lacking that most refugees in Thailand and India would prefer to remain where they are hoping to build a better life for themselves there. For the Rohingyas, the sad fact is apparently, nowhere. I have heard that the very few Rohingyas that have made it to Saudi Arabia are receiving care.Doug's Students

Q4: Do the students live with their parents?

Ans: Yes most do. In fact many are caring for their parents. In Karen culture, the eldest daughter has the responsibility of caring for her parents, and some have actually had to drop out of school to care for an aging or sick father or mother.

Q5: How many years do students spend studying at the university?

Ans: That depends on the country and the program. India uses the British system in which students spend two years after high school before entering a university. There a standard BS or BA requires three years of university study. If the degree is a professional one, it may require an additional year to receive a license to practice. Engineering, law, teaching, nursing, dentistry, vetinary medicine, and councelling are examples. Of course the MBBS medical degree is longer usually five years. In Thailand the normal university program is four years with some professional degrees, notably teaching, taking five years.

Q6: How big is the endowment?

Ans: About $450,000.

Q7: What is it used for?

Ans: We started the endowment when we realized we were not going to be able to continue our work forever. Students in Cox's BazarWith the principals we adopted to guide our work, we thought that we had developed a good operating methodology so others could continue our work in various places around the world into the future. We also thought that the transition from our leadership to others would be a difficult time for the foundation and that a modest endowment would assist the foundation through that period. We have now adopted a policy of spending from 3% to 7% (as determined by the Trustees) of endowment annually for operating expenses.

Retorical Question: (The kind we ourselves ask because we want to give you the answer) Why do you call us partners?

Ans: A while after we got started in our work, we realized that we stood in a different relation to our donors than most other charitable organizations. Most are organized to deliver a certain kind of aid. They educate, deliver food, provide shelter, report on abuses of human rights, handle emergencies, provide health care and the like. We don't really do any of those things. While it is true that we focus on education, we ourselves do not teach, we provide aid -usually financial aid- to enable those interested to receive education. It took us a while to realize that the value we deliver to you is directing your aid to the people most in need and who can most profit from it. Bringing your aid we travel to the refugees, listen to their needs and support the most worthy projects. Thus it is together as partners we achieve our good results.

Most of you know that we have one annual fundraising campaign. You will receive it very soon. For some of you, we have only an email address and so cannot sent you our newsletter which comes twice a year or our appeal. You of course, are welcome to send your support online (click 'Donate Here' below) or by check to our address BREF at PO Box 8, Hamilton, NY 13346. We hope very much that all of you can join our growing organization as partners to aid refugees and oppressed people.

Best Wishes to all,


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