We didn't enter Burma the normal way. There was no checking of passports or official border we crossed. Instead, we piled into trucks and drove on a windy, dirt road that eventually led us into Burma....specifically into Karen state.
We arrived a couple hours behind schedule and the sun was going down. We were visiting an IDP camp. IDP stands for internally displaced people and is another way of saying refugee. Several years ago there were 1000 people living in this village. Last year there were about 600. Because there is a cease-fire in Burma (which doesn't necessarily mean the fighting is done) right now, many refugees have started moving back to their home villages.
We weren't sure how many people we would find still here at this site. As it turned out, there were about 70 people still living here, and they were waiting for us.
Off in the distance of the hills we spotted a man riding an elephant!
We were a group of about 30, and we took turns introducing ourselves and sharing whatever was on our heart with these people. FBR regularly does a VBS-type program when they visit IDP camps called Good Life Club. Because our time was short, there was a shortened version of GLC - the gospel was presented, information about nutrition and health was given and then we passed out gifts.
Somehow my daughter, Sydney, was put in charge of handing out the gifts. What a blessing it was to see her involved in this way. I stood there thinking to myself, "THIS is as vacation worth remembering."
Later these three girls were in charge of handing out clothes to the children. It was fun watching them try to find the right sized child for the outfit they had to hand out.
One of the travellers had an art project for the kids to do...it involved black paint and hand prints. Amazingly, I didn't see any black paint on the new blue and white soccer shirts all the kids got.
Listen...these people...these children are living mere miles from a Compassion project just on the other side of the border in Thailand. I know because I slept at it after leaving this IDP camp. I believe these very children are some of the ones Compassion Thailand hopes to minister to if and when they expand their ministry into parts of Burma and Laos.
They have been oppressed by their very own country men. They are unwanted and have been driven out of their homes and villages....forced to flee for their lives. Can you imagine having to literally run for your life because you were being hunted down by your own country's army?
Stopping only when you think it's safe...and then having to build a life and home from nothing except the materials you find in nature?
I can't even begin to imagine what these people have endured.
When you sponsor a child in northern Thailand, you are very likely sponsoring a child like one of these refugees. Likely their parents have crossed the border to live in safety from the Burmese army. Compassion is right there on the border...ministering to these children. I know because I've been there.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would experience what I experienced...you'll learn more about it in my next post...but I was there and I saw.
Please, please, please....consider sponsoring one of these children....
August 20, 2005
November 21, 2010
Wuttikorn Jasae (Tertoi)
Rattikorn Ja-oo (Na-ngha)
September 29, 2010
To sponsor one of these children, please let me know in the comments or through email fiddlejill(at)outlook(dot)com.