Testimonies reveal hope in desperate times
Since launching the emergency village care pack initiative in early October 2021, GraceWorks Myanmar (GWM) has distributed vital support to more than 270 families – around 1,200 people.
The care packs have provided critical relief via basic emergency supplies for families in Yangon Region, Shan State and Rakhine State.
The initiative has been made possible by our generous supporters, our community development education (CDE) alumni network, and the tenacity and compassion of the GWM team in Myanmar, who have shared impactful reports of the desperate needs people are facing, and the hope encouraged by something as simple as a care pack.
One woman told her story of the growing difficulty of working just for daily survival due to the coup and COVID-19. Her family suffered the additional loss of their plantation to a flood. She said, “I was depressed and thought that it would be better if we all died as we felt that we were hopeless even for daily survival”.
News of the humanitarian aid being provided to vulnerable families through the care packs was welcome assistance against what she described as urgent need. The GWM team humbly received her report, in which she said, “now we can survive as we have food”.
In another region, a woman shared a similar story of the daily struggle for survival as the main breadwinner in her family, and with no regular income since mid 2020. Daily life comes with anxiety. She said, “one day we were almost starving…as there was no more food for the family”.
That same day, her village leader shared that the care packs were arriving. She said, “we could not believe [it at] first…we could not control our tears as we were so grateful”.
In yet another region – one that is particularly underdeveloped with additional challenges due to its mountainous landscape – a woman widowed through COVID-19, caring for her grandson, said she sometimes has just one meal mixed with corn per day. There, she explained, daily survival is an issue not just for them but the whole village.
On receiving the care pack from one of our team, she said, “I could not speak to him anymore as I was very glad. The reason is that we had no more rice and corn to cook for the evening. The aid came to us in time. My grandson was also crying as he knew that we would have food. This food will be enough for one and half months’ survival”.
These are just three of many stories we are receiving, thanks to our team and the power of the growing CDE alumni community. The aid is crossing a multitude of geographical, ethnic, religious and gender divides to support people as they contend with the tension between desperation and hope.
In October, the United Nations Development Programme released an estimate that 46.3 per cent of Myanmar’s people would be in poverty by early 2022. It was 24.8 per cent in 2017. The situation is dire but the stories of courage in the face of severe challenges are powerful.
It is up to the international community to remember Myanmar’s people…and to act.
The emergency village care pack initiative was originally launched as part of our wider Stand With Myanmar fundraiser. GWM was targeting $50,000 by 30 November 2021 – and we gratefully reached 40 per cent of our goal. However, we continue to raise funds and will direct those to village care packs and other humanitarian support for the foreseeable future.
Care packs are tailored to family sizes and needs, focused on basic nutrition and health through goods such as rice, cooking oil, potatoes, face masks, hand sanitiser and more. On average, one care pack currently costs approximately AUD$100 and provides emergency support for one family of approximately 5 to 10 people.
To contribute, donations to Stand With Myanmar are fully flexible to the amount and frequency that best suits supporters. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Donations can be made via our website at https://www.graceworksmyanmar.org.au/donate.
To our supporters, we say thank you.