Jun 29, 2020

Activities will resume soon

Happy to share learning
Happy to share learning

Refugee and internally displaced communities have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic much like everywhere else in the world.

The refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border were put into lock-down and movement inside Karen state, Myanmar has been severely restricted.

This has meant that community workers could not reach the displaced communities, so no training workshops have been held recently.

However, the women who have benefited from previous training are able to support each other during these times.

We remember the mother who said that she is very happy she joined the awareness raising session and she felt she can share the information with other women so that it will help other babies.

This ripple effect of our funding is essential for ensuring continuity and sustaining the benefits of the program.

In October 2019, the Women, Peace and Security Index, developed by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Safety ranked Myanmar 150th out of 167 countries in terms of inclusion, security and justice for women so projects like this are essential for strengthening the communities to build resistance to the challenges they face.

A huge thank you to our donors during World Refugee Week and for the matching funding from GlobalGiving. We will be able to resume support to mothers in Karen state once the restrictions are lifted. Our appreciation is expressed best by one Karen mother: “Thank you for your help to me and my children. You don't know me, and you live far away from my village, but anyway you are willing to help me. You must be very kind and thoughtful. If I could meet you I would express my deep gratitude to you.”

Mar 10, 2020

Caring for others while caring for ourselves

So happy to be home
So happy to be home

RIJ supports projects that are run by the local communities to ensure sustainability.

One participant in Uganda summed up this approach: “Thank you for walking with me, in fact I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell me the way that is why your aid is of great meaning to me and to my people. “

As we reflect on the uncertainty and fear that people around the world experience as a result of the global concern about Covid-19, it may help to stop and think about others who experience such uncertainty, even fear, for months and years on end as refugees and internally displaced people do.

Refugees show great resilience and we can gain strength and learn from them. Just like us, wanting an end to the uncertainty, refugees seek a normal daily life without fear of the unknown. They face the future with a strength and resilience that is an example to us all.

A graduate from an RIJ-funded training program on the Thai-Myanmar border said: “I have seen violence and found safety in the refugee camp. Now, with support from my fellow students I am ready to face the future with strength.”

Another beneficiary in a project for returnees in Uganda said: “the effort of this project has made happiness for us and has lifted us up above ourselves.”

Remember and support others while still caring for ourselves.

Smiling as we look to the future
Smiling as we look to the future
Mar 3, 2020

Empowering Community Workers

As the decades long conflict continues, the importance of stability in the midst of such uncertainty cannot be emphasized enough. While the livelihoods of the Karen women has not been a priority in Myanmar, they have shown great resilience. With support from various organizations women and their families are surviving and finding hope for an improved quality of life - even just the possibility of life for many babies.

Many of these groups have seen a steady reduction in funds recently as funders choose to redirect support to other competing efforts. This reduction is impactful and is felt by the beneficiaries who receive a majority of their assistance from external support. Refugees and IDPs at the border faced an unsettling year of instability as there were reductions in provisions of food, education, health services, and an increase in violence and mental health problems. There is also an increasing risk of malnutrition for pregnant mothers and babies.

While this setback seems overwhelming, the persistence of community workers has been effective in continuing to creating sustainable change.

One local leaders said “We saw that our community women and their family gained more knowledge on basic healthcare provided through the project. We also gained more awareness on basic health and hygiene including a clean environment for better health. We believe that we can increase our living standards in our community. So this project should be continued in our community.”

As we focus on continuing our support of these mothers and children we are grateful for the support we have seen and are hopeful for the future.

A district level project field coordinator explained the additional benefits: "Since I worked as Baby Kit project field coordinator, I gained a lot of skills regarding project management, financial record keeping, activity recording, dealing with difficult situations, working with local leaders in our community and also conducting awareness for the mother who received the kits. All of these skills and capacity I built up bit by bit. The practical working experience year after year also built up my confidence and capacity."

These women know that continuing conflict is a barrier to them leading healthy, safe lives for themselves and their children but it has not stifled their will to find ways to survive and try to create a better future for themselves. We are committed to supporting this effort in any way we can and know that your valuable contributions play a major role in facilitating this.

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