Once upon a time, Myanmar is one of the main paddy export countries. Beneath the rich and fertile land, there lied many precious stone and metals as well as plenty of petroleum oil and natural gas. However, the continuous ethnic wars have made great destruction to the natural environment and human livelihoods. The military junta ruled in absolute closed power has caused many times of conflicts among the general people. A large portion of population had been displaced from their hometowns as consequences. Moreover, natural disasters have visited Myanmar frequently these years, resulting in slow development, short of basic infrastructure and public services as well as deficiency in education and medical facilities.
In the midst of natural disasters and human calamities, many children lost their parents and have no one to rely on. CEDAR started to sponsor a children compound in 2005 to take care of these orphans. The ministry supplies the basic daily necessities to over 130 orphans and gives protection, healing, God’s words and schooling opportunity in nearby communities. The children compound volunteers care for these orphans with love and patience in order to help them walk out of the darkness in their heart.
Partner faced many difficulties and challenges in recent years. The inflation was exceptionally high in 2007 and everything was expensive. It was not any better in 2008 where there was financial tsunami. These had big impact on partner’s daily operations. There were times when partner can only provide the children with plain rice. Earlier this year partner planted cash crops and raised some pigs at the hostel with the hope to earn some money to help the operation. However, crop prices fluctuated a lot because of the financial downturn. The sale of pigs was bad too because of the swine flu local people are afraid to eat pork. At the same time, local military attacked some Karen villages in the country and forced the villagers to flee their homes. Many children lost their parents and were sent to our partner. In spite of the financial difficulties the hostel faces, partner responds faithfully to the call from God and admitted the vulnerable orphans, meeting their physical needs and giving counsel to heal their psychological wounds. After knowing partner’s situation, CEDAR sent a grant to sponsor the extension of a girl’s hostel to provide shelter to the children. Pray that partner will receive more support to better serve and bring hope to these needy children.
It was established in the Golden Triangle area in 2008. CEDAR’s partner aimed to take care of the poor children of the ethnic minority of Bulang and Aka. Many of the children do not have a chance to go to school due to poverty and long traveling distance. The children hostel is near to the government school down-hill. Partner not only supports the school fee for the children, but also arranges them to live in the dormitory and provides them with meals. CEDAR has through the child sponsorship scheme been supporting the children ministry since 2008.
CEDAR sponsors 10 high school students for their school fees and transportation fees through a local partner in Myanmar. These children are of the largest ethnic minority group called Karen. Their parents passed away by reason of stepping on landmines or exhausting hard work forced by government army. They need to travel a long distance from the Orphanage in attending government high schools at a town nearby.
In April 2011 thirty eight adults coming from 5 states and other high school youth attended a 2 week agricultural training organised by CEDAR’s partner MFDC in Yangon. CEDAR Agricultural Consultant D. Armstrong has been a volunteer of this programme in past 4 years. This year training lessons were on making of compost, preparation of banana planting materials, planting in rotation and fallow principles, techniques on sowing small seeds in a plot and planting seeds of different sizes and a session on rice & demonstration of fertilizer & lime for rice.
After this 2 week training, our consultant and one expert on rice cultivation visited Pathein Township to make a field visit to 3 course trainees who came from the Irrawaddy Delta region which was previously hit by a super cyclone in May 2008. One of the course trainees W is looking after a group of people who are mostly Christian and have been told to move out by their non-Christian families. W supports the villagers in spiritual and practical ways through the establishment of a community and guide the villagers how to get better yields from the land. W already seen an improvement on his paddy land after following the teaching from last year course, that is to add lime in the soil. This year he got 30 baskets of rice from each acre of paddy land, an increased from last year 25 baskets/acre. W is very hopeful by using improved rice seed, in three years time he will harvest 60 baskets/acre of land. This year two youths from his area also joined the training. One youth Zaw has attained Grade 9 education level but he is a very good farm worker, keen to learn new techniques and willing to share with other villagers. Zaw is learning to make heaps of compost as organic fertilizer. He is also helping to propagate fruit trees and trying new ways to manage insects and pests by applying non-chemical natural insecticides. Zaw will like to start a small nursery, something he learnt at the training, after this year planting of the paddy field season. This way he can save some costs and at the same time can share his tree saplings to people in his community. CEDAR is delighted to witness how course participants benefit from the Agricultural training programme and ways that they are sharing their knowledge and fruits to people in their community.
Many poor people live in the rural villages back behind the forests of the Orissa states. These villagers come from different castes, tribes and have different religious beliefs. Conflicts among groups are always happened and worsen their impoverished livelihood. In 2008, the Hindu-Christian violent conflict there, resulted in causalities and economic losses. Even now, the community has not experienced real reconciliation. Bias and hatred piled up.
The local community is further marginalized due to their illiteracy which hinders them from learning new agricultural skills. Moreover, their villages are too remote and they only rely on oxcart for transportation. This makes them difficult in going out to find a job and work. It is difficult for the poor communities to access just and fair development opportunities and hence trapped in dire situation.
Hence, CEDAR partner Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) launches a community development projects in twenty villages in Orissa. Villagers receive trainings on literacy, leadership, income generating skills and community health. Local self-help groups are helped with governance training for managing various issues in their communities on their own and thus enhancing sustainability in the development.
The impact of the project is growing gradually. Over 600 villagers from different castes and tribes have benefited. For roads construction is the most effective one, the transportation to the outer world is obviously improved. Most importantly, all the transformation in the communities are led by the local village leaders.
Calvary Commission of India (CCI) was established in 1983 and served the poor in Andhra Pradesh State. Since 1987, a children home has been established under CCI for the provision of accommodation, food, clothing, education and spiritual nurture to more than 170 children. Those children consist of orphans, street kids and children of Christian workers who serve in the poor communities. CEDAR has been sponsoring CCI’s children ministry since 1997.