Unsustainable consumption and production are among the major causes of continual deterioration of the global environment. In early years, the Lahu ethnic minority living in northern Thailand gave up their traditional agricultural practices, and started using pesticides and chemical fertilisers massively to plant cash crops in order to meet the agricultural market demand. They were making profit initially, but as the market price and oil price fluctuated, and the farmland became infertile, their harvest gradually dropped to a point where it could no longer support their living. What was worse was the negative impact on the health of villagers, whose bodies were found to contain too much residual chemical toxins as a result of prolonged consumption of crops with high levels of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
“One day, a staff of ours saw a group of bewildered-looking Lahu girls loitering at the bus stop,” Pastor Prasang, head of Thai-Lahu Foundation (TLF), CEDAR’s partner, told us, “so the staff stopped a woman who appeared to be the contact person and asked where the girls were heading. The woman only knew that she was supposed to take them to an unknown destination, and she did not know what they were taken there for.”
Thai-Lahu Foundation (TLF) is CEDAR’s partner in Chiang Mai, Thailand. TLF’s director, Pastor Prasang recalled, “One day, a TLF co-worker discovered a group of girls belonging to the Lahu ethnic group from a village situated in the mountain regions of Northern Thailand wandering around the bus stop. The girls were not waiting for bus, but were waiting for something. The confused look on their faces showed that they were not certain what they were waiting for. The TLF co-worker walked up to the suspected coordinator and asked where she was taking the girls to. Shockingly, the coordinator was not sure either. The bus stop was only a transit hub and she only knew she had to take them to an unidentified location. At the end, the TLF co-worker recorded the identity card numbers and addresses of the girls and also of the coordinator, and warned the coordinator to ensure each girl would return to their village safely. The TLF co-worker later checked with the village and was reassured that all girls were safely at home.”
[ePrayer – Pray for the instability and cold weather in Thailand]
The anti-government strike has been lasting for two months in Thailand and the situation is becoming more intense, whether in terms of participants, scale or violence. Last November when the strike was at its preliminary stage, CEDAR staff and five supporters visited Northern Thailand. It was not difficult to recognize that local people are tired of the ongoing battle between political parties. They do not want to see people from the same country to start fighting each other and they long for peace and stability.
Ethnic minority groups living in Northern Thailand mostly are not registered and without land property. Even though they have lived here for tens years and bought the land they live and farm from local people, they have no legal security. As local government officers changed frequently, they will be posted away after taking office for only six months or one year. The additional problem of corruption has set back effort made in the land and residential registration by ethnic minority groups.
Besides the political turbulence, Northern Thailand is affected by cold weather recently. In some border areas temperatures are only 11°C in day time and below 10°C at night. However local families are used to warm weather and have little thick clothes. Some households lived in hut made by bamboos and wood which are not strong enough to resist the cold wind. Local Christian groups are now collecting blankets and thick clothes to give to impoverished families and new migrant families from Myanmar.
Meditate on Hymn:
“Prepare the Banquet”, a Chinese Hymn | Lyrics by Sanson Lau
How to prepare the banquet? For whom? For those who are poor? Destitute? Powerless? Painful? Will you care for them? Or express your sympathy? Will you prepare a hot meal for them? Or give them a cup of cold water? Will you bandage their wound? …
“Whatever you did for one of the least, you did for me!” The Lord Of All said clearly and surely! Present the best to the most powerless; receive them with hospitality.
Many ethnic minority families from Myanmar and Laos have moved to Northern Thailand to earn a living and find security. The way Christians in Northern Thailand served these migrant communities is echoing the teaching of this hymn: receiving the powerless and destitute with hospitality. May God teach and prepare us to present our caring, hot meal and medicines to the poor, the migrants, the least, the helpless.
Pray for the instability and cold weather in Thailand:
May God make an end to current strife and open a new way for Thailand to move towards peace and stability. Pray for upcoming election to be just, fair and peaceful.
Pray for God’s mercy to people affected by the cold weather in Northern Thailand, especially for the impoverished and migrant families. Pray that they can have enough thick clothes and blankets to resist the cold weather. Also pray for God’s protection to the elders, the weak and the young and infants.
[ePrayer – Pray for migrant workers in N. Thailand]
Our partner’s Mekong Migrant Foundation (MMF) reaches out to migrant workers in need through providing different supports such as legal support to Burmese migrant workers on issues related to work permits & registration, processing labour disputes and reconciliation. MMF has been very busy recently working on a case which involved over 200 migrant workers at a garment factory in Mae Sai. Give thanks that most of the workers recovered their unpaid wages, passports, and work permits from their employer. During last year there has been more cooperative effort between MMF and the local Labor Protection and Welfare Office.
Pray for migrant workers in N. Thailand:
Pray that a number of suggestions related to migrant workers’ interests and rights that MMF gave to the Labour Protection and Welfare Office will be considered and adopted, e.g. related official department should have a translator to strengthen the communication with migrant workers;
Remember MMF as they provide different supports to the migrant workers easing their difficulties.
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Yunnan pastors map out the progress and achievement to evaluators on their social ministries in the past six years.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
In early March, CEDAR invited several experienced development workers to evaluate our six-year Church Mobilisation programme in Yunnan, China. Their findings and appreciation give us great encouragement.