Supporting vulnerable displaced people during protracted Myanmar crisis

Jan 23, 2024

Being the Light of Christ — Supporting vulnerable displaced people during a protracted crisis in Myanmar

During the past few years, AID’s partner, the Church of the Province of Myanmar, has been providing emergency food relief to people who have been displaced from their homes through humanitarian crises. This has been done through the church’s well-organised Disaster Management Committee.

Displacement in this context means loss of homes, loss of livelihoods, and trying to survive in a new place far from home. The church’s response during the second half of 2023 focussed on 2,026 people from 555 households over an area covering three dioceses and one missionary diocese. There was a roughly equal distribution between women and men.

The church has provided this food relief via cash to the vulnerable people concerned. This enables them to buy rice in order to survive.

This initiative highlights the church’s commitment to addressing the humanitarian crisis caused by displacement and government actions, offering crucial support to those affected.

AID sent a total of $20,000.

Each diocese has an assigned disaster response focal person, who is assisted by Catechists, some village leaders, schoolteachers, church leaders, and some local community committee members.

CPM staff told AID, “The service is effective and the whole country is currently facing difficulties. We are looking for ways to help as much as possible. Our staff and this program work with a humanitarian focus and are not affiliated with any group or political party. Under the conditions of the times, all the diocesan focal persons have a very difficult job to do. But one of them told me, ‘As an opportunity, because of doing this job, I was able to reach out to them [the displaced people], pray for them, and encourage them. If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be able to reach them by myself.’”

One of the people assisted was Saw Martin. A CPM staff member relates his story:

At 56 years old, Saw never imagined that his life would take such a dramatic turn. With a family of five to care for, the responsibility weighed heavily on his shoulders. The nightmare began in February 2023 when a 60mm type weapon crashed into their home, obliterating it in an instant. Faced with the harsh reality of war, he knew he had to protect his family. Fearful for their lives, they made the difficult decision to abandon their home and flee from the escalating conflict.

Upon reaching the evacuation site, Saw’s father succumbed to diabetes. The grief of losing a loved one was compounded by the harsh circumstances the family found themselves in. To add to their misfortune, the money bag they had painstakingly collected for emergencies was stolen after the father’s funeral.

The weight of these hardships threatened to crush their spirit. The overwhelming grief of losing everything seemed insurmountable. However, even in the darkest moments, rays of hope managed to break through. By the grace of God, the local church, and the compassion of generous donors, the family experienced unexpected kindness. The warmth and support they received helped them piece together the shattered fragments of our lives.

The story of Saw Martin and his family is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for empathy, even in the face of war.

With the assistance of those who cared, Saw was able to secure essential resources like food, ensuring that his family wouldn’t go hungry. The solidarity of our brothers and sisters at ABM AID, along with the unwavering support of compassionate individuals, reminded Saw that humanity, despite its flaws, had the power to heal and rebuild.

This provided a lifeline. Saw Martin whispered, “God bless the donors”. He holds onto the hope that one day, the world will find peace, and no family will have to endure the hardships they faced.

The food relief program initially focussed on members of the church, but this has now been expanded to include those in the most need, regardless of religious affiliation.

AID thanks its donors who have given generously to this appeal. Your generosity is saving lives.