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YOUR APRIL peacemail from the THAI/BUrma BORDER

Dear friends,

I am a refugee living with my husband and three children in a camp on the Thai/Burma border. We fled in 2006 because we were no longer safe in our home in Myanmar. I feel glad that my family is safe here but it makes me ashamed that as refugees we are a burden on others. We cannot go outside the camp to earn an income. If refugees go outside the camp and work they face a lot of problems.

Ben Littlejohn/Act for Peace Image Frame
I can speak a little English as well as the two languages spoken in the camp – Karen and Burmese. I can also read and write in these languages.  I have a job in the Community Management Targeting (CMT) group of fellow refugees which helps manage day to day life here.  I am paid a small stipend and with this I can buy some food for my family.  Part of my food ration portion can go to someone who needs it more.  I have had my job with the CMT group for three years.

Our CMT work includes determining which households are most vulnerable and may require special food and shelter assistance.  We have an organised appeal process for those who are in need. People must meet criteria that illustrates their special circumstances so as to receive more rations.  The criteria has been developed and agreed upon within our refugee community.  

My group then identifies those most in need and prioritises these households for assistance.  The households may be in need because of disability and the family can’t farm crops for food or it is a single parent who needs help. 

Two weeks ago a man came to see us and told us that he was a single parent and his children were too young to leave at home by themselves, so he was unable to work in the fields to grow food.  He was ashamed of his situation but came and asked the CMT for help, rather than go without.
Our CMT group also conducts assessments to see who needs shelter repairs and we then organise construction materials to the neediest households.

I want to say thank you very much. Thank you for helping us.

Mee Kaing*

*Mee Kaing’s name has been changed to protect her identity

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Refugees living in the camps here cannot easily move about and it is illegal for refugees to do paid work in Thailand.  As a result, the refugees are largely reliant on supporters like you for food, shelter, protection and essential services. Act for Peace’s long term partner in the camps, The Border Consortium (TBC), has been the only organisation providing food and shelter to Burmese refugees in all nine refugee camps since people started to arrive in 1984.

Thanks to your kind gifts, TBC is continuing to develop refugee-led camp management programs, building skills in the community and helping people in difficult circumstances. Mee Kaing is one of 30 Camp Committee workers whose role is to manage the day to day workings of the camp, which includes ensuring the families who are most vulnerable receive the right care and rations.
The group also conducts child nutrition and education campaigns to determine which households are most at risk and require special food and shelter assistance, according to criteria developed by the community. Thanks to your generous gifts, volunteers also provide security and help mediate disputes within the camps. 


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