(CEDAR’s note: The writer, Dr Ho Shun Yee, joined CEDAR’s Exposure Trip to the Thai-Myanmar border towns and the northern regions in Thailand at the end of last year. In this article, Dr Ho shares her experience and thoughts about the tour. CEDAR will host another in-depth tour to Bangladesh to visit the poverty-stricken communities. For more information, please visit: http://cedarfund.org/trip/)
In mid-December 2018, more than ten of us from CEDAR arrived at the Thai-Myanmar border – a place that turned out to be quite different from the land of orchids, Thai silk, massages and water fights that most people would have in mind when the place is mentioned. There were cloud-shrouded mountains and singing streams, but what we heard was a song of a thousand sorrows from the border towns. Yet, in a way, it was also a song of hope.
After the exposure monitoring trips and discussions in the past two years, we have finally chosen Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal, Myanmar and China to be the focus countries for our projects. We have since strengthened our partnership in these focus countries through cooperation and communication to promote our mutual capability on project operation and management to provide more appropriate and effective assistance to impoverished communities.
In recent years, the Chinese and Nepalese governments have loosened official restrictions on local Christian churches. In addition to reforms in the political process in Myanmar, there is a new turning point for the growth of Christian relief and development work in these countries. CEDAR hopes to seize this opportunity to seek furthering the cooperation of Hong Kong churches with overseas churches and Christian organisations. Project sites in the above six focus countries will become important platforms for Hong Kong churches to participate in appropriate response to global ministry in the practice of integral mission. Hong Kong churches can provide strong support in human and financial resources to these overseas partners engaged in frontline ministries. This way we can develop the partnership between different nations, regions, churches and organisations in better synergy.
As a member organisation of the Hong Kong Church Network for the Poor (the HKCNP), CEDAR will endeavor to mobilise local churches to work with frontline organisations, social enterprises and government, facilitating the development of district network for social concern among churches. We look forward to churches becoming the real neighbour to the poor, giving them timely, suitable and holistic care and assistance.