Burma Background

ActionOverseas has partnered with Stand By Me, a global movement of people who rescue kids in crisis, to come to the aid of children in Burma. In 2009 land was purchased, staff trained and four homes built to cater for 48 young children who have no parents to care for them. The teachers come from a nearby Bible college where ActionOverseas has a good relationship with the principal. It is our hope that all children will come to accept Jesus as their saviour during their stay at the home.

Visits are made twice a year by teams from the UK to promote and assist with the work in these homes. Such encouraging progress is evident to see as each child has his or her own bunk bed with a comfortable mattress, which they are very proud to show you, this is something many Burmese children do not have. They attend a local school, have clean clothes and nourishing food, and are surrounded by loving, caring Christian people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to care for them.

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Living in Kakuma Camp

The camp serves people from many neighbouring countries who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to war or persecution,  many are young people whose parents have been killed and have no where else to go. The camp at first seems an answer to their desperate cries for help, providing security, food, shelter and a roof over their heads, but these hopes are short lived, as reality of life in Kakuma soon becomes evident.

The camp itself is based in a challenging environment, temperatures often reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, dust storms, poisonous spiders and scorpions, along with malaria and cholera outbreaks being part of everyday life. The arid, semi desert region giving no means to grow food and little opportunity to earn any income in which it's inhabitants can support themselves.

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Each nationality has an area within the camp to live, not only to make them feel at home but also so conflicts between cultures are minimised. Even then complete protection is not guaranteed as arson attacks, vandalism and theft from buildings are common place. The camp is a dangerous place to live especially for those who are alone. Many are still scarred from the traumas they have suffered in their home countries, so friendships and trust are hard to build.

The refugees live in houses made out of mud which are covered with polythene sheets, these are usually built by the refugees themselves when they are admitted to Kakuma. At the beginning and middle of the month each person collects food from the food distribution sites in the camp, this must last fifteen days but often it does not.

Once admitted to the camp refugees have no freedom, they are not allowed to seek education or employment outside of it. Inside this small city at the edge of the desert, children age into adulthood and hope fades to resignation.

Many agencies work in the camp including United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the World Food Programme, (the only distributor of food in the camp), and many other agencies who work out of a small compound. However with approximately one thousand new refugees arriving at the camp every month demand always exceeds supply.

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The aid taken by ActionOverseas, which was raised during the annual conference, Ablaze 2011 and supplemented by further support from local churches, was received with great appreciation and included maize, beans, rice, sugar, salt, soap, oil, tea and medical supplies. The supplies in total filled a 20 tonne lorry, the sacks of maize alone enough to feed 750 people, 3 meals a day for 6 weeks.....that's 100,000 meals. Although the pastors were unable to personally deliver all food due to camp restrictions, they did take supplies to foster families who were overwhelmed with the quantity of food they were given and found it difficult to comprehend what had been done to achieve the delivery of all the aid.  

Burma Profile

Burma was once a prosperous country with thriving agriculture, rich deposits of jade and extensive timber industries; it was known as the Golden Land. However a cruel and military junta, persecution and corruption have resulted in poverty, starvation, hunger, child prostitution and the largest percentage of child soldiers in any country in the world. Until recently isolation and persecution of Christians and the closure of churches was an everyday occurrence. One million people live in the forests of Burma still afraid of the government forces.

There is a glimmer of hope for the country as a new government has come into power and progress is slowly being made. Some aid is now reaching the country from the UK, with an aim to tackle malaria, reduce child mortality and enable children to build their future. This is still only a tiny proportion of that truly required by the nation.

The country is still predominantly Buddhist with some 89% of the population following this religion. Christianity meanwhile accounts for only 4%, with people facing attack and persecution by the military. In early 2012 talks between the government and Christian leaders were held, there is hope these will lead to an end of the sixty year conflict within the nation but there is a long way to go as the conflict, the warfare, the death of civilians, and attacks specifically targeting Christians are long running issues.

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