One might readily connect words like “refugees” and “war” to the Syrians, the Rohingya people, or the South Sudanese.
In fact, besides the Rohingya refugee crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar, another 200,000 people in the country were forced to be internally displaced from Kachin State in the north, Shan State in north-east, and Kayin State in south-east due to unceasing armed conflicts. The United Nations estimated that close to 172,000 individuals in these three states need humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, humanitarian effort is limited due to safety concern or inaccessibility in non-government-controlled areas.
A 72-year-old pastor partnering with a younger pastor to visit the refugees
[ ‘SHARE’ May-Jun 2017 ] STEP INTO THE WORLD
The Myanmar government and the anti-government forces were at war for the past 10 years. As the conflict was reinitiated in 2016, the estimated number of internally displaced population has reached 660,000. The conflicts in Kachin State alone forced close to 100,000 to flee to Yunnan, China.
In Baoshan city of Yunnan province, about 70 families of the Lisu ethnic minority live on Gangding Mountain, which is about 128 kilometres from the city. All of them, approximately 440 people in total including children, are Christians. Their living is never easy because they have no proper household registration (hukuo) and they do not speak Chinese.
Development of children in China has improved significantly as the economy soars, and many UN Millennium Development Goals are reached before the target dates. However, urban-rural and east-west inequality and disparity are still huge, which means it is harder for some children in the western or rural areas to get proper education and hygiene services. The Lisu hill tribe children living along the mountainous border of Yunnan are an example.
[ ‘SHARE’ Sept-Oct 2013 – Myanmar – A Beam after the War Flame ] FOCUS ~ Country Development
The Lisu pastor serving the displaced in the camp
Author: Lisa CHAI, Senior Programme Officer
Habakkuk 1: 2- 3
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. (NIV)
For decades the Myanmar government armed forces and opposing non-state armed groups have engaged in armed conflict. The frequent occurrence and brutality of reported human rights violations by these armed forces caused us to cry out like Prophet Habakkuk. Why do the innocent suffer and perish? We ask God to intervene yet violence and abuses prevail. Over the years CEDAR has supported partners operating in conflict affected areas in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, just to name a few. I am reminded by the book of Habakkuk that in face of conflict situation, we may be perplexed yet God is continuing His work. In the midst of violence and destruction, development is possible.
[ ‘SHARE’ Jan-Feb 2013 – Green Notes Or Green Life? ] CEDAR’S BLOGGER
Author> Lisa CHAI, Senior Programme Officer
In September I joined a CEDAR sponsored agricultural training on Sustainable Agriculture based on Christian holistic development. At the end of the six-day training, I realised participants benefited not only in learning different techniques like making Effective Microorganism (EM), but most importantly, our trainer has given participants hope and an outlook of an improved life despite the difficult circumstances faced by many.
Many of the ethnic peoples living on the mountains are very poor and struggle tremendously. A Lisu pastor shared that this training has provided a way and a chance for them to improve. Before the training, villagers thought a large investment is always needed to raise animals and often farming activities. They saw what other farmers did and wanted to follow yet many of Lisu people are poor, the fear of not having investment inputs deterred them. However, our trainer taught us simple techniques and gave such straightforward instructions that they can all follow to start with a small plot which requires very little financial investment, thus giving them hope of change.
Over 25 participants from several states attended. They were rice farmers from lowland, church workers from arid dry zone, village leaders from conflict resettlement area, church pastors from mountain region. One trainee is a youth pastor from a dry, dusty, poorly developed area. Just imagine, I was told there you would see peacocks walking alongside rickety vehicles…. it is a land quite wild! Water scarcity is a daily challenge. During summer time, local people can only afford to use 3 cupfuls to clean themselves. The community wants to widen and deepen the existing lake to collect rain water. I do not know if this is the best way to solve the water crisis; however I can see this youth pastor is full of passion, to give ’living water’ in terms of meeting community’s survival needs and spiritual nourishment.
It is a reminder to me that we purposely need to act in the context of holistic development to see how project activities and people involved contribute towards extension of the Kingdom of God. For a road construction project, development workers naturally think of easier access to market, more trade, better livelihoods. Yet from the words of this same youth pastor, it also means isolation broken is down, easy access by evangelists to result in the spread of the gospel.
Christian development is more than secular development theories and concepts. Sustainable agriculture is not just about applying principles of ecology. Natural farming is more than bringing the soil and environment back to its original form. It is about God’s creation and our stewardship over the environment. It is about ruling over the earth that reflects God’s character….certainly I look forward to taking more lessons in future!