Saturday, June 10, 2006

Chronic IDPs


I have just returned from five weeks inside Karen State with the Free Burma Rangers. I learned of a different type of internally displaced people that I had not heard of before, what we can call “chronic IDPs”. The ones I met had been forced to leave their villages in 1976, and have been more or less on the run ever since. Thirty years of fear and uncertainty. When I asked them what they did for healthcare they laughed and replied, “you get better or you die”. They are unable to school their children and farm in small amounts but not enough to keep from hunger. Because they are undocumented it’s dangerous for them to travel to larger villages to sell or buy goods. They are cut off from even their own people and literally live like animals. The families I met were in total about 120 people. One very small man was eager to share with us, “When we farm we have to carry two baskets, one basket of seed to plant, and the other basket we carry blankets and clothing, when we work we look at the hilltops, if the enemy comes we run, if we see them we run, if we don’t see them they will shoot us. Sometimes if someone is shot we cannot help them, it’s very difficult for us.” It was hard to imagine living this way, but it struck me plainly that the Burma Army is dehumanizing and stripping good people of their dignity and right to basic freedoms. This man risked his life and family to come to talk with us, he desperately wanted to share what was happening. I share this as a favor to him. Thank you. (The medic treating this "chronic" IDP is named Dey Htoo, she is a great lady and will surely be in the film.

2 comments:

FCB said...

You know Matt, Carissa, at this age wants to be a nurse, and has for sometime, and to use that skill in the mission field. I can see her in this picture and it makes me well up as I admire the courage of this woman and her example.

matblue said...

Well you will get to know her more as she is the one that will be in the film. She is great, very shy, but so dedicated and tough. She too got malaria but kept walking and treating patients. She was trained at Dr. Cynthia's border clinic, the clinic that you saw the story about. It's one thing to work at a clinic on the border in relative safety, it's another to travel into the war zones that make those refugees and treat the people at the brunt of it. I really respect Dey Htoo for that, amazing. A person worth emulating.