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 Hunger  Myanmar Project #30513

Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by DARE Network (Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Network)
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Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Burmese Refugees: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Hand Washing Station at Mae La Camp DARE Centre
Hand Washing Station at Mae La Camp DARE Centre

DARE Network in the time of COVID 19

Hello Friends,

All of us at DARE Network hope you are safe and keeping that way for the unforeseeable future. Despite all the news, it is important that you put your health as a number one priority.

Likewise, at DARE Network we have had to come to grips with the reality of this ghost tiger that roams among us. It seems like we just slid into the situation that has taken the world by its collective throat. However, it is our only goal at this stage to prevent the virus from entering the refugee camps on the Thai/Burma Border and our DARE Centres there, as well as our DARE Centre in Karen State.

You can imagine the devastation of COVID in a refugee camp, where social distancing is impossible. At the height of our treatment cycle in Mae La Camp, for example, we might have up to 50-60 people all in one and half bamboo buildings, sharing everything. There are still almost 100,000 people in refugee camps along the border. DARE Treatment protocols are very hands on, up-close and personal. We realized the dangers immediately.

In addition, our staff in the camps and in Karen State move around giving prevention education, following up on clients and helping families understand the impacts of addiction.

We decided we needed to put everything on hold until it is safe to proceed again. Yet, in some of our centres we were in the middle of a treatment cycle. Our first line of defense was to stop all our acupuncture, herbal saunas and traditional massages. We broke our group work into smaller groups and rotated them so that there were no more than 10 people in one place at a time. Then social distancing was possible.

Most importantly, our core staff from Mae Sariang travelled to the camps, before they were shuttered by the Thai authorities, to provide Covid19 education to everyone in our teams and any clients that remained. We installed hygiene stations and taught hand washing in detail. We showed people how to cover their coughs and sneezes and not to spit (a cultural habit). We spread people out, as best we could. Our staff also went to Karen State to share the same education and to help our staff strategize on how to get food and cook safely. Our outreach program was stopped.

Now we are working through budgets to ensure that our program holds together, that our staff are retained and paid and that they have what they need to survive and stay safe. We want to thank all of our donors, who are standing by us during this challenging time.

All of us at DARE Network

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Certificate of Achievement
Certificate of Achievement

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

 

All of us at DARE Network wish you the best in 2020, the start of a new decade.  We hope you and your families have love, security and prosper.

 

Firstly, we want to thank you for your most kind and compassionate giving over the last year and during our Year-End Campaign.  The difference you make to our work is phenomenal and every donation we receive goes right to our beneficiaries.

 

You may not know that 2020 is DARE Network’s 20thanniversary working with the displaced people from Burma.  20 years is a long time and we have accomplished a lot on a shoestring.  The reason we are still here is the never-ending situation of oppression and violence perpetrated on our people and the pain that they suffer as a consequence.  The enormous supply of drugs plied by the drug lords of Burma and their protectors the Burmese Military look like a good solution to that pain for many who remain hopeless for their futures.  We are here to help them find other ways to relieve their suffering. Many have come to us and many have been prevented from walking down the road to addiction.

 

So, 2020 is a year of celebration for us in the face of such a protracted situation.  We will be expanding our program inside Karen State. Unfortunately, we are suffering the same fate of many organizations of the Thai/Burma Border, as major International donors continue to withdraw their support from the refugees.  We are having to make adjustments and compromises in order to survive.  

 

But just be reassured that it is you and your support that keep us resourced and motivated.

Next report we will offer you some of the results of our annual evaluation.  In the meantime, work has begun in the refugee camps and in Karen State after a short holiday for all of us.

 

We keep to our motto A Free Mind Cannot be Destroyed

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The rainy season is over.  The slow drying of the land will now continue until May 2020.  It will get cold and then it will get hotter and more humid, reaching 45 degrees on a regular basis.

Our core staff, Law La Say, Kir, Major and Day Wah travel through floods, landslides, and dust laden trails, in our ancient truck, motor scooters, boats and on foot to bring supplies, food and encouragement to our DARE Teams in the refugee camps and inside Karen State.

In the rain the roads turn into slippery mud, in the dry heat the mud turns to dust so pervasive it invades the lungs.  There is no escape.

The heat slows everything down.  We have no fancy air conditioned buildings to cool off.  It is so hot you could fry an egg on your brain.  And yet, accounts must be kept, budgets planned, proposals written, plans implemented and monitored, reports written.  Try that when your brain just wants to lie down.

And yet, we have made it through another monsoon season.  Sweet December is not so far off.  Spirits rise and the work is done.

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Crossing the hand built natural bridge with goods
Crossing the hand built natural bridge with goods

It is rainy season on the Thai/Burma Border.  Our staff now must not only deliver their programming but do so through very challenging elements.  From the end of April to mid-October it rains and rains and rains.  Monsoon.

 Driving conditions become treacherous on the mountain roads.  A trip to Mae Ra Moe refugee camp that normally takes 3 hours, now takes 8 hours…if you don’t get stuck in the mud that is.  Let’s hope the truck doesn’t fall off the mountain.  Some others have.

 Inside Karen State, the rivers swell.  Our DARE Team must protect their organic gardens from flooding.  Our centres are all built up to protect from the water rising. The biggest challenge is delivering supplies to our team inside the remote area, where our DARE Centre lies. This year the team and the clients built a mud and rock bridge over the river so that the motor scooters could carry rice from one side to the other.

 They also built a bamboo ferry to carry people and goods over the river.

Of course, all the water brings mosquitoes galore.  Malaria and Dengue Fever and Japanese Encephalitis can pass from person to person bitten by these miniature buzzers of death.  Everyone must take precautions with mosquito nets and now in these modern days, repellent.

 The only thing the rains protect the ethnic people of Burma from is the Burmese Military attacks. That waits for the dry season. Usually.

 Our DARE Staff and Teams are heroes.  They are brave and strong.  Thanks for supporting them.

Mae La DARE Centre sprayed for mosquitoes
Mae La DARE Centre sprayed for mosquitoes
Building a bamboo ferry
Building a bamboo ferry
The ferry does the job
The ferry does the job
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Jungle walk for the Outreach Team
Jungle walk for the Outreach Team

Challenges

 

Although we share with you our many successes, it may be interesting to know many of the challenges the DARE Network Staff must overcome, work with, ride through and endure to continue to do their work.  Apart from war and trauma that is.

 

  1.  Environment

The environment in the refugee camps and inside Karen State is primitive. In many places there is no electricity or running water.  Shelter is simple bamboo.  There are many insects, snakes and other wildlife with which to contend.  People are traumatized. At our office we have frequent power outages and water stoppages.

 

  1. Climate

The climate is harsh. In the rainy season there is flooding and landslides.  Increased mold, bacteria and malaria carrying mosquitoes all presenting health dangers. In the dry hot season, there is dust, smoke, pollution, and heat reaching up to 45C or 113 F.  This heat makes it very difficult to think and move…to work.  The demands of the work increase within the climatic conditions.  We have no air conditioning in our office or in our DARE Centres, in the field.

 

  1. Authorities

Thailand and Burma, despite their façade of democratic reform are run by dictators.  Abuse of power over people with low status is the norm. Arrest, raids, and corruption are rampant on the border.  In order to work, we must be careful of for our staff many of whom are stateless people. In Karen State, we must appease 4 or 5 armed groups at all times to provide safe passage for our DARE outreach teams.

 

  1. Bureaucracy

Like many countries, Thailand requires are morass of bureaucratic obeisance.  Reams of forms and multiple meetings are the norm for every move we need to make.  Just a visit to the refugee camps require levels of approval from the local to the provincial to the national level. Sometimes these approvals don’t arrive in time. Camp passes can be denied for unknown reasons.  There are at least 10 meetings a month on the border that we are required to attend, which are not all in the same place. 

 

  1. Travel

DARE Network staff support and monitor and evaluate all of our activities in Karen State and the Refugee camps.  We travel on mountainous roads in all seasons, we cross rivers, ride motorcycles and walk, in order to support our teams.  Noting the climate and environmental conditions above it is not easy and the distances are long.  Each monitoring trip takes a week and we do these monthly.

 

  1. Language barriers

Our staff are required, because of our DARE teams, donors and authorities to speak, read and write in their own language Karen, Burmese, Thai and English.  That’s four languages we deal in every day.  I would say our DARE Network staff are among the most brilliant people I know.

Client and herbs
Client and herbs
Flooding
Flooding
DARE Centre in Camp
DARE Centre in Camp
Don't want to meet this on the way
Don't want to meet this on the way
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Organization Information

DARE Network (Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Network)

Location: Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son - Thailand
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Pam Rogers
Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son Thailand
$26,925 raised of $40,000 goal
 
334 donations
$13,075 to go
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