Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall 2008 Newsletter of Friends of Burma

Friends of Burma Newsletter – Fall 2008

548 Home Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46807-1606


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Well Deserving Honor

On June 11, 2008, The Peace and Justice Commission of Associated Churches presented the Peace and Justice Award to the founders of Friends of Burma (FOB), Dr. Neil and Diana Sowards, for faithfully serving the refugees in Fort Wayne, IN, for nearly two decades. The co-recipient of this award was Catholic Charities, which helped resettle nearly 3000 refugees in Fort Wayne.

*** The Peace and Justice Commission is a part of Associated Churches of Ft. Wayne and Allen County. It was established in 1944, and represents over 120 congregations in Allen County. Other ministries include A Baby’s Closet, The Food Bank System, and the Weekday Religious Education Program.

Helping Storm Survivors!

Friends of Burma continues to offer support to the victims of the cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Right after the storm, FOB executive members voted to release an emergency relief fund in the amount of $20,000 to the Karen Baptist Convention (KBC). The storm killed one third of the population under KBC association, including 28 pastors, and destroyed many KBC-affiliated churches. KBC was in the forefront in assisting all victims and used FOB’s initial fund in the rescue and recovery effort. Another $8,500 was released from FOB’s own budget later and Friends of Myanmar Governing Board decided to purchase the following items to resettle the storm victims: eight boats to transport people and goods, 250 subsidized houses for pastors whose houses were destroyed, 3,000 mosquito nets, 100 educational scholarships, 2000 flashlights, 9500 yards of plastic tarp for temporary shelter, and 50 guitars.

The devastating outcome of Cyclone Nargis affected FOB’s members and contributors in unimaginable ways. Many raised funds and engaged in activities to help out in special ways in which they felt called. The following describe a couple of highlights of the collaborated effort:

  • Philip Htoon and Nwe Nwe Win, executive members of FOB, embarked on an organized fund-raising effort by forming the Myanmar Burma Relief Organization (MBRO) affiliated with Friends of Burma. Since MBRO was founded in May 2008, nearly $35,000 has been collected. Ninety-eight percent of this fund was used to purchase and distribute most urgently needed relief items, which include mosquito nets, drinking water bottles, clothing, medical supplies, and consumption goods (rice, sardines, etc…). Currently, MBRO and Project C.U.R.E. have made final preparations to deliver a 40-foot container of medical supplies and equipment (worth an average wholesale value of $400,000) to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. For the latest updated activities, please visit

  • Dr. Ardeth Thawnghmung, executive member of FOB, visited the areas affected by the storm. She had the opportunity to meet villagers, conduct interviews, identify their needs, and offer encouragement and support with the funds raised in the U.S. Donated materials included five tractors, rice seeds and diesel fuel sufficient for 50 acres of farm work, one boat, and medicine.

Erville Porwy, the secretary of Pathein Myaungmya Karen Baptist Association, reports – “It is now rehabilitation time. We are building shelter, pumping out salty water from ponds and wells, and providing food, drinking water, medicine, power tillers, diesel oil, fishing nets, engine boats, paddy seeds, etc. We tried to dig tube wells 300 feet deep in some villages and only salt water came up! We promised to support the victims' children's educational expenses. The school is already open and so far we have 1212 students in primary through high school who are Nargis students. Please pray for us and help us!”

Helping Deliver Health Care

Report from Kayin Baptist Healthcare Center (KBHCC)

On May 4, 2008, two days after the storm, Kayin Baptist Convention Healthcare Center (KBCHCC) started its relief work. People from Pathein, Myaunmya, and Bogalay were evacuated and refugee camps were set up at the Pu Tha Phyu Seminary in Pathein, Myaungmya Sakaw Kayin Association Headquarter in Yedwinyegan, and Myoma Baptist Church in Bogalay. Many were without food and drinking water for three to four days. Some older villagers and children died due to severe cold and starvation. Many sustained serious bodily injuries and almost everyone suffered from acute respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract infections. A large number of pregnant women and new mothers in postnatal period were present. All the people were fearful and greatly saddened. KBCHCC set up mobile medical clinics in Pathein, Myaungmya, and Bogalay.

Emergency medical treatments were given. Those who needed operations were sent to nearby hospitals and KBC clinic in Yangon.

Then, the emergency situations arose as the church that housed 500 survivors lost its roof and the pastor's house providing shelter was near collapse. Food and water were running out. As more villagers sought shelter, KBCHCC team decided to recruit more volunteers from Yangon to repair houses, build more shelters, and travel to remote villages to help.

Throughout this time, God had been faithful. Words cannot express how much the money you sent helped us with the relief work. On May 16, when we helped deliver two new babies in Myaungmya camp, it made all of us shed tears of sadness and joy; sadness because lives were lost; joy because new lives were born, which is a sign of hope. Later, survivors were sent back to their villages. Now, mobile clinics at Pathein and Myaungmya are closed. But the Bogalay clinic operating at the church is still open as 150-200 patients come to seek medical treatment daily. The clinic committee identifies that a new, permanent clinic in Bogalay would bring healthcare to 47 villages in upper and lower Bogalay regions. The Bogalay Church already received construction permission. They need $15,000 to build this clinic. Please help with this healing ministry!

Helping Orphans

Many children became orphans as a result of cyclone Nargis. Hpu Saw Bu Orphanage in Yedwin Yegan added 56 orphans to its already crowded facility. Kwe Lwe Orphanage also added 45 orphans. FOB is sad to report that Hpu Saw Bu lost six of their children to cyclone Nargis: Naw Pearl Land, Naw Catherine, Nant Sanda Oo, Naw Shwe Ei, Khu Heh Su, and Naw Nway Nay Paw. These two orphanages are providing counseling for the orphans and doing everything they can to care for these children. A dining hall and kitchen is 75 percent complete and a new building is also underway to accommodate additional orphans at Kwe Lwe. The cost will be $30,000. FOB provided $5,000 for his building. KBC is also making plans to construct a new building for Hpu Saw Bu that will cost $33,000.

Please continue to support orphans. Last year, the fees were $156 ($13 per month) but we need to increase it to $180 for 2009 ($15 per month) because of devaluation of the dollar and inflation. Persons wishing to help purchase new school uniforms could do so for $5 per child. Most orphans have just one uniform. Pray for the workers and directors who are laboring under such severe circumstances.

Helping with Education

Inductive Bible Study

FOB continues to support the Inductive Bible Study Program of KBC, designed to assist all Christians to be faithful Bible readers, obedient to the command of God, and productive in serving God. Thara Daniel Ban Doo is spearheading this program. He was trained in the U.S. for this specific ministry. Those that attended this program stated that this is a very thought-provoking, Bible-based teaching that is much needed for the spiritual growth of Christians in Burma.

Hpu Mya San Bible School, Pathein

Hpu Mya San was a missionary to Thailand and Burma border areas. He became the first martyr while working with the Pwo Karen people and this Bible school is named after him. Hpu Mya San Bible School is affiliated with the Pathein-Mayungmya Pwo Karen Baptist Association. In the aftermath of the storm, Hpu Mya San Bible School started caring for refugees. The adults have returned to their devastated villages, but 150 children remained on the Pwo Karen compound to go to school. Much of the resources of the school have been given to the children. The thirty seminary students gave their tables and benches for these children to use while they study on the floor. They are attempting to raise $130,000 for a three-story building to build classrooms and a library by 2010 when they will celebrate the school’s silver jubilee.

Emergent Outstanding Students Program

The Pathein Myaungmya Karen Baptist Association helps students from villages with great academic potentials to attend high school in Pathein, as many villages do not have high schools. In Burma, to graduate from high school is extremely difficult; less than 20 percent graduate annually. Fifteen out of 20 students from this program graduated from high school this year. In Ayerwaddy Division, where the graduation rate is only 30 percent, this is an astounding 75 percent success rate. Five students graduated with distinctions in English, Math, Chemistry, and Burmese. Three of these five students were sponsored by individual donors through Friends of Burma. We thank all of them very much. Please continue to support this program!

Dr. Chit Maung Library

Last year DCML celebrated its 10th anniversary. What a wonderful journey it has been! The last decade has seen a transformation from an ambitious idea to a vivid reality and from a subsidized project to a financially independent non-profit entity. Many have contributed to this successful story, but Neil and Diana deserve much of the credit for wholeheartedly supporting DCML. Also, had it not been for the librarian Anna Barbara Maung, the library would have ended as one of the many short-lived international projects in which the locals have little clue as how to execute the “foreign” vision. DCML has been most successful in providing English courses. Summer enrollment totaled 128. Weekend English classes are designed to prepare students for the Cambridge Young Learners English Test (YLE) offered by the British Embassy. The YLE Tests are a series of reading, writing, listening, and speaking examinations for learners of English as a foreign language. The beginner tests are available at three levels - Starters, Movers and Flyers. After getting the Flyers’ certificate, students can aim for the next levels: Key English Test (KET) or the Preliminary English Test (PET). DCML offers preparation courses for all of these five levels. Twenty seven students from DCML’s English classes recently passed the YLE tests. Wishing the Library many more successful years!

Go Forward Press

For the first time ever, Go Forward Press with 28 full-time staff is not only running its business debt-free but also generating a monthly net income of $700 - $1000 for the Karen Baptist Convention. FOB donors helped Go Forward purchase an offset machine and a truck. The truck has been transporting relief teams and goods to disaster areas after the storm. We extend our appreciation to all of you who always pray for us and help us.

Report from Naw Ler Blute Po

By the grace of God, I am now in my second year pursuing a master’s degree in Teacher Education Training & Professional Development at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I serve as a president of PKSF (Payap Karen Students Fellowship). Our fellowship went to Karen villages to promote the gospel and literacy during summer. I also participate in activities of PMSF (Payap Myanmar Students Fellowship). I enjoy being a group leader and choir member of Chiang Mai City Karen Baptist Church. I am very thankful to God for these wonderful experiences. My heartfelt thanks go to all of my sponsors in America and Australia! God bless you!

Helping Refugees in America

Many more refugees continue to arrive in the U.S. Challenges abound as the refugees have to make drastic adjustments in a new country. The following describes how FOB members are involved in helping the refugees:

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Diana and Neil Sowards have been heavily involved with the Burmese Karen Refugees in Fort Wayne. There are now close to 1,000 with little English skills and many medical problems. Diana drives over 800 miles each month taking them to various appointments. One of the problems she solved was getting Pro Bono lawyers to get the court to appoint an aunt as a legal guardian for a severely retarded girl. She had them write a thank-you letter to the lawyers who said it was the third thank-you letter they had received in 35 years! Neil purchased a run-down house for a widow with eight children and is fixing it up so that her monthly outlay is now within her means.

Moline, Illinois

In September, 2007, John and Ruth Peterson, executive members of FOB, made their first contact with a Karen family they agreed to care for upon arrival. Within a couple weeks they met more of the newly-arrived families.

Here are their own words: “When asked what we did, we said we were pastors of First Baptist Church, Moline, Illinois. The word spread quickly and we now have 55 to 60 Karen getting involved in church activities. Our Sunday School has grown from a half dozen children last year to more than 30. Our children's choir has renewed vigor. The Karen community worships in their language at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday. During that time the children are involved in Sunday School in Karen and in children's choir in English. At 10 a.m. the Karen community joins the rest of the church for a worship service in English. Beginning in September, an afternoon praise service was established to be held once a month for those who work on weekends and cannot make it to church in the morning. Thirty five baptized Karens joined the First Baptist Church of Moline. The church recently purchased a new 15-passenger van to supplement the 12-passenger van they had. We are a wonderful family of God. . . and more are coming each month!”

Phoenix, Arizona

Judy Lundy, executive committee member of FOB, and her friends continue to provide backpacks and school supplies for refugee kids in Phoenix for the fourth year in a row.

Tansy Kadoe and Adam Maung, also executive committee members, translated AZ Driver License Manual and application forms to apply for government assistance. The manual is available for $15 and application forms are free. Tansy and Adam conducted classes on completing application forms for government assistance, driving in America, and banking and finances for refugees.

Wish List

    • Support farmers in Pathein.
    $ 3,000 per tractor
    • Support 101 new orphans at Hpu Saw Bu and Kwe Lwe orphanages.
    $ 180 per child
    • Support student refugees in Pathein to attend school ($265 each for a year includes tuition, textbooks, uniform, food, mosquito net, etc…).
    $ 265 per student
    • Give Burma-made mosquito nets.
    $ 5 per net
    • Provide supplemental aid to Bible School students who can no longer receive support from their families, affected by Nargis.
    $ 30 each
    • Give guitars to churches under rehabilitation.
    $ 50 each
    • Sponsor doctors and nurses to work at KBC mobile clinic.
    $ 600 per month
    • Give an ambulance/truck to KBC clinic.
    $ 21,000
    • Help build a new dormitory and library for Hpu Mya San Bible School.
    $ 130,000
    • Help build a new dormitory at Kwe Lwe Orphanage. They already raised $13,043.
    $ 16,957 still needed
    • Help build a new dormitory at Hpu Saw Bu Orphanage.
    $ 50,000
    • Help build a new clinic that will bring healthcare to 47 villages in Bogalay.
    $ 15,000

All work in the U.S is done by volunteers. Friends of Burma is a 501(c)(3) organization.
All donations are tax deductible.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Protecting Burma Cyclone Orphans

TOE, Myanmar (AP) — Now, 12-year-old Twe Zin Win must try to play the role of mother. Every night, she lulls her little twin sisters to sleep with a soothing lullaby their mother once sang them — before the storm swept away her parents forever.

"Every night I dream about them coming back," says Twe Zin Win, huddled in a tiny thatch hut the orphans share with grandparents, who eke out a hand-to-mouth existence while she cares for her siblings rather than going to school.

The three children are among a still unknown number of orphans coping with hardships — physical and mental — more than two months after Cyclone Nargis raged through Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta, leaving a trail of flattened villages and broken lives.

In an impoverished, military-ruled country with a threadbare social safety net, aid workers are also warning that these orphans of the storm are targets of exploitation, including recruitment into Myanmar's army which has been accused by the U.N., the U.S. and human rights groups of inducting thousands of child soldiers.

"As I have seen from many other countries, including those in Asia and Africa, being orphans simply increases their vulnerability to becoming child soldiers, forced laborers, being trafficked or involved in sex work," says Ashley Clements, a spokesman for the U.S.-based aid group World Vision.

Because of such fears, agencies like World Vision working in the cyclone-devastated region are advocating placement of orphans with surviving relatives, like the grandparents in Twe Zin Win's case, rather than in orphanages.

"The goal is to put in place a mechanism to protect children from neglect, violence, abuse and exploitation," says a statement from the U.N. Children's Fund, which is supporting 51, community-based "child-friendly spaces" to provide education, recreation and other aid to children storm survivors, including orphans.

But orphans like Twe Zin Win have so far had access to neither help nor games from foreign aid groups or Myanmar government agencies.

"Every day my grandmother and I cook for them, wash their clothes, play with them, give them showers and send them to bed," she says of her tasks as a full-time keeper of the 2-year-old siblings, which have forced her to drop out of school.

A few miles away in Thome Gwe village, another 12-year-old girl, Su Myat Swe Yu, remains traumatized by the loss of her parents, a brother, sister and three close relatives on one disastrous night. She and two brothers who also were spared now struggle for survival with their grandfather, a rice farmer who lost his house and livestock — "everything we owned," he said — to the cyclone.

Both families have been approached by strangers from urban areas offering to adopt the children — and both have refused.

"I don't want to give them away. They are my son's children. I have also heard stories about children being bought and sold. My only goal in life now is taking care of my grandchildren," said Su Myat Swe Yu's grandfather, Khim Maung Than.

To deter child trafficking, the government has forbidden adoption of storm orphans. While there have been no reports of children survivors being forced into the military, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch last year detailed the recruitment of thousands of boys as young as 10 to fill shortages in army ranks.

These and similar accusations have been denied by the regime, which says it is trying to stop all human trafficking.

State media said that in mid-June authorities rescued 80 women and children, all cyclone victims, from traffickers scheming to smuggle them into a neighboring country, apparently Thailand.

Disguised as aid workers, the traffickers reportedly took the survivors from the Irrawaddy Delta, where most of the storm's nearly 140,000 dead or missing had lived.

International aid agencies estimate about half the 84,500 officially listed as dead were youngsters but only partial information has been collected on the number of orphans as the Department of Social Welfare and foreign groups continue tracing victims.

UNICEF spokesman Zafrin Chowdhury said the agency has identified 428 separated and unaccompanied children among survivors by the end of June. Clements said that in one village, three of out 10 children he spoke to had lost their parents.

"I don't think this number represents the whole picture, but I have been to different villages in the delta, where a lot of children have lost their fathers, mothers or both," Clements said.

With one of the world's worst health care systems and few social services, Myanmar's government orphanages offer minimal care, and the regime, which exercises tight control over the population, restricts and sometimes punishes private humanitarian efforts.

The one saving grace is an abiding tradition of the closely knit, extended family in which orphans like Twe Zin Win and her sisters are lovingly taken into the homes of relatives.

"My lost daughter has left me her children and I will try to take care of them," said Twe Zin Win's grandmother. And in turn the 12-year-old sacrifices to help her sisters.

"Usually when I sing the song that my mother used to sing they fall asleep more easily," she says. "The song starts with `Oh my children, fall into sleep. Whoever you will become, you must always be brave.' At night they only sleep if I sing that song."

Friday, July 4, 2008

God is at Work in Burma

Report of God at Work in Burma
It has been a while since I sent out my last update. We were in Malaysia for visa purpose last week. Now back in Thailand.
There has been many things going on in Burma, but I will keep this short. The situation in Burma has improved to some level. More foreign aid workers are allowed to do their job. KBC (Karen Baptist Convention-supported by Friends of Burma) has bought all required tractors for the villages, total 100 tractors, leaving them with about $35,000 debt. However, they are just happy that villagers can work on their fields in time for rice season. In addition to tractors, KBC sent, and still sending, diesel fuel for the tractors and rice for the villagers as well. Thank you all for your help, so far about $10,000 has been given to help victims of the cyclone.

On the good side, because of the cyclone many countries came to know Burma and its long struggle for democracy from the military dictator who has been ruling the county since 1962. Many churches in the country learned to work together. Based on reports from friends who
are working among cyclone victims, many have learned the power of the wrath of our sovereign and loving God. Many (Christians) have come to realize the sinful lives that they have been living in. Families are closer together. I believe God has a good reason for letting this storm happen.........Parents often do not want to punish their children but discipline is done for the good of the child. We hope to learn from His discipline and grow to be stronger followers of our Lord.
Blessings, Htaw
(Note from reporter - This attitude is so indicative of the Burmese people. They are truly living in the Grace of God due to their struggles and persecution)

And this Positive News Report:

TOKYO : UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged on Tuesday to press Myanmar to bring "genuine freedom" to its people after he struck a deal to bring in international aid after a devastating cyclone.
Ban in May became the first secretary general in 44 years to visit Myanmar where he persuaded junta leader Than Shwe to accept foreign disaster experts. The government, suspicious of the outside world, had waited weeks before letting in significant international help to cope with the disaster, which left more than 138,000 people dead or missing.
"If and when it is necessary, I am going to broaden and deepen this process in my dialogue with the Myanmar authorities," Ban told a news conference on a visit to Tokyo. "You have my firm commitment and assurances that I will work very hard to help the Myanmar people to enjoy genuine freedom and democracy," he said.
Ban said that despite the delay in accepting international aid teams, the government has largely lived up to its word in allowing access. "Things seem to be moving in the right direction," Ban said. "As far as I know as of today, international workers and UN staff have been able to carry out their humanitarian assistance as has been agreed," he said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Burma Situation Keeps Getting Worse & Worse

We received the following appeals from Burma:

Please note: The government is taking many of the Christian orphans and will be raising them as buddhists or even worse.
Also, to rebuild Christian churches requires government permits, which they are not allowing.

Rangoon, Burma

May 26, 2008

Dear Fellow Karen & Well-wishers

With heart-broken and deepest sympathy for our Karen Baptists from Labutta, Pyapon, Bogalay Townships, I would like to convey some sad information to you and your church members.

I have visited Labutta Township from May 7-12. I went through Bassein and some villages of Ngaputtaw Township. Nargis cyclone had destroyed almost all our Karen villages and churches which are located in Labutta Township, Pyapon Township, Bogalay Township respectively. The most effected area is Labutta Township. More than 5,000 Karen Baptists died and over 20,000 are homeless. From Bogalay, Pyapon, Daydayeh, Kyaik Latt Townships, over 2,000 Karen Baptists died and 40,000 are homeless. Ngaputtaw Area’s Karen Baptist Churches lost only buildings, but the people’s lives are spared. The wind speed of this destructive cyclone was 140 mph and it took 15 hours, and had crossed Hinegyi, Ngaputtaw, Labutta, and the rest of Ayeyawaddy Division. This deadly cyclone destroyed not only our Karen villages, but also Brumese and Rakhine villages severely killed not less than100, 000 people and left more than 2,500,000 people homeless. Now, only at Bassein camp we have over 3000 homeless and desperate cyclone refugees. We also have over 10,000 people who are taking havens in other camps like, Maubin, Myaungmya, Yedwinyegan, Pyapon, Yangon, Labutta, Kawlaylu, etc. The Bassein Myaung Mya Sgaw Karen Baptist Association and Home Mission Association had arranged motor boats to convey pure water, salt, clothes, and rice to the effected villages and brought back homeless people to safety places. Now, this opportunity was closed down and the remnants in these villages have to depend on God alone.

My village- Kannyinaung was totally uprooted by strong wind, high and speedy tide or waves. My two sisters, my brother-in-law, my niece, and my grandson were carried away by this violent cyclone and died with my beloved 60 villagers/church members. When I went back there, I could not even see my father and mother’s house and the church building. Over 20 pastors and ministers died with their church members and most of their bodies could not be found until now. I have seen many dead bodies, including buffaloes, cows, etc, were floating along the rivers and some corpses, and dead bodies of cattle were stuck on the banks of the rivers and in the rice fields. Since sea waters has flooded all the rice fields and villages, farmers and villagers will surely face big problem to cultivate their rice fields and to get pure and sweet water for drinking and daily usage. Many people are now suffering from mal-nutrition, down hearted, trauma, grief, diarrhea, depression, hopeless, dehydration, etc. Their urgent needs are rice, pure water, salt, medicines, mosquito-nets, clothes and shelters to cover them from heavy rain.

Please look for some ways and means to help meet their needs. Please also ask your church members to pray earnestly for them. God alone can provide and fulfill the enormous needs of these people, human cannot. Please convey this information to other Baptist churches and our Karen Baptists. Please make many copies of this letter and distribute it to your friends and co-workers. Helping the victims of Nargis cyclone will not finish within a few months. I think it will take several months or, a year or 2 years. As I am one of the advisors of the Relief Committee of the Bassein Myaungmya S.K.B. Association, I would like to request K. Baptist churches and other Baptist Churches to extend their love and sympathy by helping the needs of our desperate brothers and sisters who are facing immeasurable problems and dangers. You can send your contribution to the Bassein Myaungmya S.K Baptist Association office and the Yagon Home Mission K.B.Association, or KBC. My telephone number is 01-552459 & 095027630.

May God use you mighty in helping these victims effectively and generously.

In his service,

An eye-witness


Relief Committee


Aids from other countries

You might heard and see many stuffs, things arriving in Yangon. But all are controlled by the Military Government. These things rarely reaching our Karen villages. Some portions might reach Burma villages but not to our Karen villages. Unless our Karen help the Karen victims, nobody will not. That is why many Karen victims don’t want to return to their villages, but they were forced to return. (just a few minutes from Bassein, I heard that all cyclone refugees at Bassein were forced to leave and return to their villages. At No.3 S.H.S Camp, some Bamas who refused to return were forced by soldiers to leave Bassein.)


We heard some rumors about the children, the orphans that the government would like to keep them in their camps or orphanages called “parathitta” If our Karen Christians orphans were forced to be like that, I am sure, they will become Buddhists, soldiers, prostitutes & sold-out, etc.


The Vinton Memorial Hall/Church and over (100) Karen Baptist church buildings were totally destroyed by the cyclone. To reconstruct these churches, first, we need the permission from the government. Nowadays, to obtain the permission to erect religious buildings, especially, the church building is very hard or, not permitted. Second, the expenses to do the construction are very high. Since many houses were severely destroyed, the victims will need shelters crucially. In Myanmar during June, July, August, September, usually we have heavy rain. After the cyclone, I have seen 80% of thatches (roofing & covering material) were destroyed. 90% of schools were also destroyed. The victims who went back to their villages have to make their temporary tents by themselves.


The works of rehabilitation is the hardest one. Since all their rice fields, buffaloes, cows, fishing nets, fishing boats and properties were gone, to continue their normal lives and earn their living is a very big problem. The government has no interest for the victim’s rehabilitation. Unless international countries are involved, our problem will never be solved. Through they have plough machine to do the cultivation, another problem is getting diesel or fuel. Enormous aids will be needed for rehabilitation.

May 10, 2008.

An Emergency letter from Honor Nyo

(Formal General Secretary of the Karen Baptist Convention)

To: Friends and co-workers in Christ.

Re: Nargis Cyclone

Dear Friends & Co-workers in Christ,

I am very sad to give you some information about the severe destruction and impact of Nargis Cyclone which destroyed the Delta Area of Burma seriously. It was happened on May 2-3. The speed of Nargis Cyclone was more than 140 mph. It lasted 15 hours and killed not less than 100,000 people and destroyed houses, churches, trees, schools, monasteries, boats, buildings, coconut trees, rice mills, etc. severely.

I was there from 7-11, May and have seen a lot of damage of things and people. My own 2 sisters, one brother-in-law and many relatives died. Pastor Rev-Maung Bay, Thra Center, Thra Moo Say, Thra Lah Say Wah, Thra Tha Plah, Rev. Andy, Rev. Moo Wah, Thra Raymond, Thramu Thwe Htoo, etc. died. Some of their bodies were found and buried properly but most of them could not be found and missing or may still be floating in the rivers and sea. In some families only one or two members are left and now there are many orphans in Bogalay and Labutta Township. I was reared in Kannyinaung village Labutta Township and has visited 15 villages during May 7-11 and found that all their homes, churches, animals and plantation were gone. The survived families members are now suffering from heart- broken, despair, hopelessness, grief and trauma. What they need urgently now are rice, pure water, salt, shelters, clothes, blankets, mosquito-nets and medicines. I have seen a lot of corpses are floating and stuck on the river banks. No one care to remove or burry these corpses of people and animals. We have sensed horrible smell all over these areas. Since the rainy season is approaching fast, these victims will be in need of shelters and foods urgently. To grow rice in salty water flooded areas is a big problem, also another problem is since almost all their cattle to use for cultivating their rice fields died and only a few rich farmers own plough machines the majority or farmers will be in danger & great problem. Another big problem is pure water to drink and daily usage. The government has no concern to rescuing these victims. Now, only civilian are helping and rescuing their own people to be able to rescue and help these victims quickly and effectively, we are in need of diesel/ petrol to convey foods, water, etc. and bring back children/orphans, & survivors who lost everything to refugee camps. Now the cost of diesel & petrol are very expensive. Car can reach only to Labutta Town. To be able to reach to the cyclone affected area/village, it will be lasted 8-10 hours form Bassein by motor boats.

Now at Bassein Christian Camps alone, more than 4000 refugees arrived

At Paw Bawlu village, more than 100 villagers took refuge in their village church building which considered the strongest building. At that night, they have faced a strong wind which brought waters; it flooded their village with a very speedy flow. The water has reached to 20 feet and destroyed all homes including their church. The roofing of the church collapsed and killed not less than 70 people who took refuge under it.

The pastor of Has Gyet (Thra Center) and 50 young people were invited to Mr & Mrs Tornado’s thanksgiving on 3.5.2008. Both Pastor and his wife, their children and 50 young people were also struck by that violent storm and except 5 young people. The rest were wipeout by the strong wind and speedy water to death.

My village (Kannyinaung) and its nearby village called, Ye dwe gone, Theh Gone, Hsin Chaung, Ponako which are located on a small island were uprooted almost totally by Nargis Cyclone.

I am afraid these villages/churches in that area to reestablish themselves again a village or churches in the future. Please help meet their emergency needs and pray for them earnestly.

Another urgent need of the farmers is seed paddy to grow it when the regular rain comes. The farmers used to keep seed paddy, but now, all were gone. Thatch plants and bamboo were also gone. Therefore, to rebuild their houses/shelters is another big urgent need.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Baptist Christians Suffer Heavy Losses in Burma (Myanmar)

Myanmar Baptists suffer heavy toll
Baptists in Myanmar were among those hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis, which struck the country on May 2 and 3, packing winds of 200 kilometers per hour and causing widespread flooding.
The Myanmar
Baptist Convention (MBC) lost more than 10,000 members who died as a result of the cyclone. More than 94,000 other members have suffered loss of home and other property. Many church buildings were destroyed, and the headquarters of the MBC was badly damaged. The estimated cost of repairing the headquarters building is US$100,000.
A leader of the MBC, whose family narrowly escaped death and injury when a tree fell on their home during the storm, reported to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) that Myanmar Baptists have put plans in place to assist those affected by the natural disaster.

The “Myanmar Baptist Convention organized the Nargis Relief and Rehabilitation Central Committee, including the leaders of MBC, and the Nargis-struck areas of Kayin, Pwo Kayin, MBCU and Asho Chin conventions,” he said.
The MBC is divided into more than 20 other smaller conventions and those the MBC leader named are in the hardest hit areas. The leader informed the BWA that “at present the basic needs of the people are foodstuffs, clothes and tents or construction materials,” but stated that “it is advised to assist in cash instead of in kind.” BWAid Rescue24, a search, rescue and relief effort of Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, sent a team to Myanmar to do assessment of the damage and needs and to offer aid. BWAid Rescue24 registered with the United Nations Development Program and opened an office in the damaged MBC building in Yangon, the largest city in the Southeast Asian country. The team is working through MBC and the Karen Baptist Convention, one of MBC’s smaller conventions, to offer aid to six camps where internally displaced persons (IDPs) are housed.
The team reported that “the assistance is literally saving lives at this point, with situations of widespread diarrhea, and serious electricity and water shortages.” They further informed the BWA that “the IDPs are desperately seeking shelter; the more fortunate get plastic sheeting while others are trying to fabricate huts from palm trees and bamboo.”
Reporting that the total death toll is now at 134,000, they said, “Cyclone Nargis destroyed the greatest rice productive fields and the animals used in agricultural work, leaving thousands with no hope for food for the next year.”
Furthermore, fishing, a major source of food, is not being done, “due to the fact that the masses of dead bodies could not be buried, local officials had to throw them into the rivers… Locals refuse to continue fishery from the contaminated water.” A round table meeting of Baptist convention and relief and aid leaders is planned for Saturday, May 24, in Bangkok, Thailand, to assess the situation in Myanmar. The BWAid Rescue24 team will attend the meeting and give a report. Donations to the BWAid Emergency Response Fund can be made at or sent to:
Emergency Response Fund Baptist World Aid 405 North Washington Street Falls Church, VA 22046 USA (May 21, 2008)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

FOB & Myanmar Burma Relief in Action

May 14, 2008 – MBRO’s Logistics Committee has delivered the much needed boxes of alcohol prep pad and cotton balls to the Labutta area. Photos are to followed soon.

May 12, 2008 – MBRO’s Logistics Committee is working on the delivery of rice bags to the affected areas. MBRO is negotiating with a rice merchant in Yangon for this delivery. The price of a 120 lb bag of rice is $20 USD.

May 12, 2008 – MBRO’s Logistics Committee is working on the delivery of medical supplies by container to the affected areas.

May 12, 2008 - MBRO has been informed that alcohol pads and cottons balls are among the most urgently needed items in Labutta (one of the most affected areas). MBRO has found a supplier in Yangon and is waiting for a price quote.

May 12, 3008 – MBRO’s onsite team arrived safely in Bogalay Township and successfully delivered two truck loads of water bottles. MBRO’s onsite team arrived back in Yangon this morning and is now planning its next delivery trip.


May 11, 2008 - MBRO is currently working on the logistics of delivering rice bags.

May 11, 2008 - MBRO is currently working on the logistics of delivering medicine.

May 11, 2008 - MBRO is currently working on the logistics of delivering medical equipment and supplies.

May 11, 2008 - With the assistance of MBRO's onsite teams in Yangon, MBRO has successfully delivered a second load of drinking water to Bogalay Township, one of the areas hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis.


May 10, 2008 - With the assistance of MBRO's counterparts in Yangon, MBRO has successfully delivered two truck loads of drinking water to Bogalay Township, one of the areas hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis. This delivery of 1 liter drinking water bottles was among the eight truck loads of donations that left Yangon for Bogalay earlier today at 6:00am.


MBRO has contracted with a water bottle manufacturing company in Mandalay, Myanmar, to supply 250 5-gallon water bottles. MBRO also has a contract with a water purification company in Pegu, Myanmar, to fill these 5 gallon water bottles with drinking water. MBRO estimates that these bottles will be delivered to the victims within two weeks. MBRO is also making arrangements to have additional bottles delivered in the near future.