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My Mission to Myanmar

Mission to Myanmar
When the ceasefire in Myanmar’s Kachin State broke down, I was sick with sadness.  The State was back to full-scale war, largely over the issues of ethnic rights, political autonomy, and control of its vast natural resources.  The fighting had resulted in the internal displacement of 70,000 villagers who were now living in camps.

I had to do something to show my concern.  So I decided to apply for a visa and travel to Kachin from Thailand where I serve as a Maryknoll Brother.  That way I could assist on the ground and utilize donated funds from some of our Maryknoll supporters.

I shook with emotion when our aircraft finally touched down in Myanmar.  For nearly 15 years I had worked on and off with the people in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin.  Some of the seminarians I taught there are now priests.   

This is what I saw:  A couple of the camps located in disused churches provided fairly adequate shelter.  But a third camp, the largest, was in desperate straits with 900 refugees and growing.  I used most of our funds for food and as well as blankets and clothing.  But food was critical.  You can just imagine how many tons of rice per day are needed to feed everyone living in a camp.   

As I walked about greeting various groups, the suffering brought to mind the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar leader who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991 while under house arrest.  She was only able to accept this honor in June after being freed from captivity.  In her speech in Oslo, Norway she said, “To be forgotten too is to die a little.  It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity.”  

I did not want the people I met to feel as though they were forgotten.  At one stop, a mother asked me to pray at the side of her slowly dying son.  The child’s face was wrapped in a peace not of this world, and the mother’s was etched in anguish.  All I could do was to accompany her with compassion.

I pray my small acts of kindness in Kachin State convinced those I met that we have not forgotten them.  Perhaps the one consolation I took home is knowing that the funds I brought from our Maryknoll donors would in the end make a difference.  I feel the deepest gratitude to everyone who helped make kindness a reality for the people of Kachin State in Myanmar.  May God bless you always.

You can make a difference, too.

The plight of displaced persons in Kachin State, Myanmar continues to cause great suffering.  We are grateful to our Maryknoll donors who have made gifts to Brother Beeching’s humanitarian mission to Myanmar, and allow him to keep hope alive.  

If you would like to make a gift to overseas mission or increase your support, please click here.

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