Raising Awareness: People on the Thai-Burmese Border

Recently in school I have studied the conflict in Burma and the situation of the Karen people in both Hartford and Thailand. Since 1948 Burma has had the longest ongoing civil war in world history. The Karen people, an ethnic minority are being persecuted by the Burmese military government. Originally, the British occupied Burma until the Japanese invaded and tried to take over the country in World War II; the Karen sided with the British and were promised independence from the Burmese after the war, while the Burmese allied with the Japanese. After the war, the British never gave the Karen their independence and left complete control of the country to the Burmese, who began persecuting the smaller ethnic groups such as the Karen, forcing them to flee into Thailand and eventually being relocated around the world.

I met some of the Karen refugees currently living in Hartford. Their stories touched me; these people, through no fault of their own, are living such hard lives. Meeting them reminded me yet again how lucky I am.

This coming March I am fortunate enough to travel to Thailand to work at a refugee camp and medical clinic by helping conduct patient interviews and providing medical supplies. I’m also planning to visit a local school to bring supplies and teach English.

In order to make a bigger difference, I am raising money for Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF)  which provides transportation and medical help to refugees. Any donation, no matter how small, can make a huge difference in the lives of less fortunate in southeast Asia. A $25 contribution can cover the costs for one patient to be transported to a medical clinic, taking the first step towards the treatment he or she may need. My goal is to raise $2,500 which would provide medical treatment for 10,000 people for six months. 100% of your donation will go directly to help the Karen people.

I feel as though the Karen people have been abandoned and forgotten throughout history, so not many people know of their terrible plight. I hope to make a small difference by fundraising, volunteering, and raising ongoing awareness of their situation. If you’d like to donate, you can do so three ways by Feb. 28:

  1. Donate online and get a US tax deduction: http://burmachildren.com/get-involved/how-to-donate/us-donations/ But in order for your donation to count toward my goal, you will need to send an email to michael@burma-projects.org and kanchana@burmachildren.com with a cc to stacienberdan@gmail.com and include my name and your contribution amount.
  2. Send a check made out to Burma Border Projects and either mail directly to them (Burma Border Projects, PO Box 20173, West Side Station, Worcester, MA 01602), or to me and I can mail it in. If the former, note that the donation is to go to the Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) and include my name so I get credit toward my goal. You can ask for a receipt for tax purposes.
  3. Send a check or cash to me. BCMF has requested that I buy supplies on the ground for the school and clinic, so all donations will not go through BCMF.

Once in Thailand, I will be posting photos and updates on social media, so for those who donate, send me your email so I can share the links! Thank you very much!


Betty Berdan

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