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Thursday, July 31, 2014

You do not always know how profound your support can be for families in need


It was three years ago when the United Nations estimated that 50,000 people in Mynamar, a small country in Southeast Asia, were displaced due to conflict between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government.

Ever since, HOPE international Development Agency has been working to provide life-saving support to internally displaced people living in an informal camp in Kachin state.

Recently, we met with one of our female staff that had just visited a camp of families displaced by conflict in Myanmar. With great emotion she tearfully recalled how dramatically our support has positively impacted these families. She described how when violence broke out between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government, families did not know what to do or where to go to flee the violence. So they withdrew to the borderlands of Myanmar, literally a stone's throw from China.

Unfortunately, these families did not realize that by fleeing into KIO territory, larger international organizations that usually provide support in refugee camps were not able to access the area to provide any relief support. So for many, many months, families languished in the camps with no outside support. They had fled from their homes empty handed, and when they arrived at a place that felt safer than where they left, there was no help: no shelter, no food rations, no water.

It was a tragedy, and when we heard about the situation, we responded. We knew that our support was relatively small in comparison to the great need, but we also knew that we could not stand by as these displaced families suffered.

What we did not know at the time was that our support served as a catalyst for other international organizations to also move in and support these families. Since then, many other organizations saw that it was possible to access the area where these families are, and are now also providing life saving food, shelter, water, and latrines.

Listening to our colleague, we were reminded that we do not always know how profoundly our support will impact mothers and their children who have fled from violence. No matter how many emergencies that families are facing all around the world, we know that we will continue to provide whatever support we can. And when that support is able to somehow make it possible for others to help these families as well, we are profoundly humbled and moved knowing that somehow what we did helped reach more than we ever hoped or imagined.

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