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.
By Pam Rogers | Capacity Advisor/Addiction Trainer
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.
By Pam Rogers | Capacity Advisor/Addiction Trainer
Jungle walk for the Outreach Team
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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