WHAT DEFINES A HERO?

FOURTH QUARTER 2008

PARTNERS MATTERS
by Nathan Willis Partners Relief & Development Australia

Partners Magazine Fourth Quarter 2008 Publisher: Partners Relief & Development

During the emergency response phase of Cyclone Nargis, I had the privilege to be on the front-line of Partners’ work. We took risks, prayed hard, and worked around the clock to ensure that resources and personnel were in-place to be the hands and feet of Love in the Irrawaddy Delta. The Burma regime attempted to block our many acts of love. I am amazed at how effective our response was. We were able to deploy staff to the Irrawaddy Delta and ensure that food, medicine and shelter were made available to those who needed it. Some Australian news media stated that we were the heroes of the relief effort. I am not so sure. Let me explain why. During one of my visits over the past two months I had the privilege of sitting in a room with some of the real heroes of the Delta. These men were in the Irrawaddy Delta on the day that the cyclone hit. They usually lived hundreds of kilometres away. One of these men had decided to throw a small digital camera in his bag. These cameras are hard to come by in Rangoon, yet he’d been given one by people in the resistance movement a few weeks prior. He’d also received training. As the storm hit, this man decided to wrap the camera in a plastic bag and then place it under a table on a raised bamboo floor. He thought this place gave the best chance of survival for the camera. The storm hit in force and many people were scrambling for shelter. The entire village ended up standing behind a solitary concrete wall until dawn. As the sun rose, our hero went back to see what had become of the camera. A tree had fallen on the roof of the hut, and it was destroyed. However, as he crawled into the hut he saw that the camera was still where he’d left it. Although the water had swelled beneath the floorboards it hadn’t reached the camera. He cautiously opened the plastic bag, and examined the camera. He waited to ensure there was no moisture in the circuitry. With a finger-press, the camera came to life. This man took photos that told the world of the devastation. These photos were beamed through major news networks and allowed people to see the true nature of what the Burma regime was attempting to hide. This man went on to be a key person in communicating the many needs of the people in the Delta. Despite his full-time job back in Rangoon demanding his time, he ensured that he was able to secretly pass funds and equipment, and facilitate people to get to the areas of most need. His sacrifice saved lives and shined light in a dark place. In this issue of our magazine, you will read of some of the unsung heroes who make love a lifestyle within areas of conflict in Burma. As I told this man, “You are my hero”, I express the same sentiment to the people whose stories are told here. God is working through ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats. Thank you for your ongoing partnership to ensure that the world knows what is going on in Burma, and more importantly, that people are assisted in their deepest areas of need. Inspired By Lives Well Lived,

To demonstrate God’s love to victims of conflict and oppression. Founder: Steve Gumaer PRAD is a registered charity in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Norway, New Zealand and Thailand PRAD’s Field Offices: Chiang Mai and Mae Sot, Thailand Subscriptions: For a free subscription to Partners Magazine and for information on how you can help PRAD in their mission, please contact us: USA E-mail: info@partnersworld.org Web: www.partnersworld.org Mail: Partners Relief & Development PO Box 2066 Redlands, CA 92373, USA Phone: 909 748-5810 CANADA E-mail: info@partnersworld.ca Web: www.partnersworld.ca Mail: Partners Canada 33130 Springbank Road Calgary, Alberta T3Z 2L9 Canada Tel: 403-242-7903 AUSTRALIA E-mail: info@partnersworld.org.au Web: www.partnersworld.org.au Mail: Partners Australia PO Box 13 Alstonville NSW 2477 Australia Tel: (02)6628 5387 UK E-mail: info@partnersworld.org.uk Web: www.partnersworld.org.uk Mail: Partners UK 15 Kingsthorpe Close, Forest Town Mansfield, Notts NG19 OPD UK Tel: +44 7970-188-079 NEW ZEALAND E-mail: info@partnersworld.org.nz Web: www.partnersworld.org.nz Mail: Partners NZ PO Box 40 284 Upper Hutt New Zealand Tel: 09 974 2850 Reprints: Bulk reprints can be obtained directly from PRAD as availability permits. Contributors: Craig Garrison, Nathan Willis, Dave Eubank, Kath Halley, Sarah Armitage, Steve & Oddny Gumaer. Photos: Steve Gumaer: pg. 1, 4, 8, 9, 10; Chris Dolan: pg. 17, 20; FBR: 6, 12; Bryan Monzon pg. 7; Doh Say: pg.19 (right). All other photos: private Front cover: Doh Say. Photo by Steve Gumaer Layout and design: Bryan Monzon, Oddny Gumaer Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984. Zondervan Publishing House. Permission to reproduce any of the material found in Partners Magazine can be obtained at: info@partnersworld.org Printed in Thailand © Partners Relief & Development 2008.

Nathan Willis National Director, Partners Relief & Development Australia

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PARTNERS MAGAZINE FOURTH QUARTER 2008

WHAT DEFINES A HERO?
HE-RO
–noun

a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

A HERO IN OUR OWN WORDS. (WHAt PARtNERS StAff tHINk A HERO IS)
A hero is anyone who is faithful to what he or she is supposed to be doing, regardless of results. Craig, USA A hero is someone who gives their all while putting their personal comfort and security last; but does it with humility and joy. Sonya, Uk A hero is someone who lives the greatest commandment in spite of danger, inconvenience, lack of comfort, or personal ambition. Steve, USA Someone who stands in the gap for those who have no advocate. Matt, USA One who, in a bold and vulnerable move, pushes through the ceiling of society’s mediocrity in order for others to follow behind them into newfound truth and freedom. Dave, Australia A hero is someone who risks what he/she has or is in order to help others and get the job done. Stu, New Zealand Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. Sarah (from Princess Diaries), Uk A real life hero is a person who saves someone else’s life, without even using super powers! Caleb, (9) New Zealand A hero is an ordinary person who does extraordinary acts of love without counting the cost. Nathan, Australia A hero is somebody who displays both courage and self-sacrifice in order to do what is right and speak what is true. Oddny, Norway A hero is someone who lays down their own agenda and needs for the sake and welfare of others because they consider the person and the cause of more worth than their own needs. kath, Australia A hero is someone that does extraordinary things, but is still humble enough to talk with average people. Deborah, Switzerland A hero is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. It’s never for recognition. It’s simply the right thing to do. Greg, Canada

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Eliya (Elijah) is the Chief Medic for the Free Burma Rangers. His Animal name is ”Toew Plu” or “Mad Dog.” He is fast, highly skilled, and brave.
He is a 37 year-old Karen Christian, and is married to “Cat,” a beautiful and dynamic nurse. They have four children. Eliya is a gifted medic, trainer, champion kick boxer, artist, singer, cook, hunter and all-round athlete. He served as a medic in the Karen Army (KNLA) and is admired for his bravery under fire, his mature decision making, his ability to handle complex situations and get along with everyone, and for his lifesaving ability. He is almost always smiling and his distinctive, booming laugh can be heard wherever he is present. He is unflappable under pressure, never gives up, prays with faith, shares all he has and is supremely talented. The following are a few short stories that give some insight into his character. The First Ranger Over 10,000 people were fleeing into Thailand during the 1997 Burma Army offensive. The border road we were on was clogged with families carrying all they had. I pulled my truck over to the side of the road and as I stepped out, a man emerged from the jungle. He was in full camouflage fatigues, with a hand grenade on his harness and a M16 in his hand. He had a warm and open smile and a bright red earring in one ear. He looked like

a pirate. “Hello,” he said in English. “My name is Eliya and I am a medic, can I help you?” I thought, “Man you are an angel—a pirate angel!” “Yes,” I said. “I want to help the people who are sick and are behind.” Eliya looked at the four backpacks of medical supplies I had in my truck and, stopping some of the fleeing people, said to three men in one group, “You can run away tomorrow, but now is the time to help your people. Come and help us please.” He gave three medical loads to these men. I picked up the fourth and we went through the fleeing refugees back to the border to help those we could. Mostly he treated patients while I assisted him and prayed. After one week we were out of medicine and, when we arrived back at the truck, were presented with a man who had stepped on a landmine. His shattered stump was already severly infected and he needed to get immediate care at a hospital. We loaded him into my truck and Eliya tied his IV bags to the roof of the truck so that the infusion could continue as we transported him out. The sun was just setting as we secured the victim in the truck. Eliya turned to me and said, “My wife and son are somewhere back there in Burma. Now I have to go find them. Maybe next week I will be dead, ha ha.” His teeth flashed as he laughed and shook my hand. I prayed with him and then he was gone into the night. Note: Eliya did find his family and now he and his wife, Cat, have four children. Eliya was the first Free Burma Ranger and helps us train and lead the 100 part-time and 43 full-time teams that, with the help of Partners and others, bring relief to people in Burma.

Partners works closely with the Free Burma Rangers (FBR). Each year FBR trains and supports between 20 and 30 relief teams, who commit 6 to 48 months to serve as a team member on a relief mission. They hike into areas of conflict to provide material, spiritual and general aid to the victims of the abuse and exploitation of the Burma Army. Partners helps train the teams, provides medical and material supplies, and commits a large portion of its budget to relief necessities the teams use and distribute. Eliya is one of the many team leaders who inspire us with heroic action.
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Landmine Victim We were with a group of over 800 IDPs who were hiding from a Burma Army attack on the Northern Karen and Southern Karenni border. Over 5,000 were displaced in the area and the Burma Army was still attacking. We went to a village that had been attacked to photograph the rice barns that had been burnt there. We were led by a villager who had been captured and tortured by the Burma Army, but who had escaped. As we were filming the remains of his rice barn, there was a large explosion 200 metres from us. It was a landmine. Ten villagers had been walking down the trail back to the village after they heard the Burma Army was gone. The last person, a 17 year-old boy, Saw Sa Lu, had stepped on a landmine left by the Burma Army. His lower leg was shredded, the bone was shattered and it was connected to his upper leg by only a strip of skin. Eliya immediately took charge of the situation, organised our other medics and began to work on the boy. He controlled the bleeding from the stump, put in IVs and began to clamp and suture off blood vessels and arteries. He comforted the boy, and prepared him for travel. Saw Sa Lu’s life was saved and he was then carried four days to a mobile clinic. Commitment We were in a village in Northern Karen State, three months into a relief mission. We were waiting for more medical supplies. There were no attacks near to this village. At the same time, a steady stream of families fleeing attacks far to the north began trickling into this village. We had no medicines left so we treated them the best

we could as we waited for the re-supply. One day, as we waited, I was told that Eliya had just been called to look at one of the children of the fleeing families who was not well. When I arrived at that hut I saw that Eliya was surrounded by a crowd of people. I walked over to get a closer look and there he was with a small 3-4 year-old boy on his lap. The boy had sores all over his face and had both mucus and pus draining out of his nose. As the boy was part of the group that had fled the attacks, he had not changed his clothes or bathed in days. He was dirty, sick and scared. Eliya was talking to him gently and trying to calm him. Eliya looked up at me and said, ”This little boy was playing with a ballpoint pen and pushed it up his nose. The tip broke off and is now stuck far up his nasal passage. I will try to get it out.” Eliya then unsuccessfully used a series of long forceps to try and remove the pen tip. After an hour of failed attempts, he looked at the boy and the parents and said, “There is no other way,” and smiled. He then bent over and put his mouth over the boy’s nose and began to suck the mucus and pus out of the boy’s nose. He kept sucking, hoping that the pen tip would come out too. In the end, the pen tip was removed with a combination of sucking and probing. I looked at the whole scene and was amazed and grateful for Eliya’s love and commitment. Don’t Worry About Tomorrow We were moving with 96 people, who were fleeing a forced relocation site. There were grandparents in their seventies, small children and one three-week-old newborn being carried by his sick and pale mother. The Burma Army was chasing us and had us surrounded by five battalions. At one point, when the Burma Army was approaching closer, we stopped to try and figure out a way through the Burma Army cordon. Everyone was down

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Maw Hla and Eliya sharing a laugh in Karen State low and keeping very quiet. The Karen soldiers were on one knee and formed a perimeter around the families who were squatting or lying on the ground. It was very tense and no-one was smiling. I was kneeling beside the Karen (KNU/KNLA) and FBR team leaders making a plan when I looked up to see Eliya approaching. He was bent over slightly with a broad grin on his face. Still smiling, he leaned over to me and very softly sang, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, just really good today; the Lord is right beside you to guide you all the way; have faith, hope and charity, that is how to live successfully; how do I know? The Bible tells me so!” Then he continued up the line of people on the ground, smiling and encouraging them in a soft voice. Everyone he passed smiled back at him and the whole mood on the jungle floor shifted. By prayer, the skill of the Karen soldiers, and Eliya’s and others can-do attitude, we were eventually able to get out of that situation and take all of the 96 people to safety. Lessons Learned I have learned many things from Eliya and what strikes me the most is his relentless self-sacrifice, positive attitude and how he always puts the needs of others first. His courage and immediate action in difficult situations has helped to make me braver, and his love has helped me to love more. He is a gift of God to our family and a favorite uncle of my children; helping to carry them in the jungle before they could walk and treating them when they were sick. Our son, Peter Eliya, is named for him. Along with courage, action and love, I would like to share two things that Eliya has taught me that I hope are useful to others. Who Do You Serve? When the first threat to our work came and it looked like we may not be able to continue here, Eliya asked me, “Would you be sad if you could no longer work with the Karen?” “Of course I would be sad,” I answered. Eliya replied, “Don’t be sad. You are not working for the Karen. You are working for God. God can use you anywhere, and He will. You have helped us very much already and we will keep going. Don’t worry for us, just follow God.” What Is Your Duty? When I met Eliya the second time, after he had found his family during the 1997 offensive, I asked him,” Why did you stay and help me and the refugees when your
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own family was at risk?” He answered, “In life we do not have control over everything. We have to do the duty God sets before us. I love my family and wanted to help them. But I did not even know where they were. However, I did know where the thousands of families who need help were. They were right in front of me. I had to trust God and my friends to take care of my family until I had done all I could for the people in front of me. God would take care of the things I could not. Then as soon as I was done I went to find my family and was so happy when I found them safe. I want to follow God and I thank Him for all his gifts. You know I am not a very good man, and sometimes I do bad things, but I will keep trying and I put my trust in God.” by Dave Eubank

Treating an IDP woman in Karen State

Karen Cowboy
All photos: FBR

HSER GAY PAW
Far From the Front Lines…Yet Still a Hero to Many
When you first meet her, you instantly recognise that her most endearing attribute is her giggle and the way she tries to hide her smile with her hand. It is impossible to spend even five minutes with her and not experience this quality. Most of us define a hero as someone who does extraordinary things on the frontlines of life, yet many everyday heroes in the Karen’s struggle for freedom are hidden and unsung. One of these is Hser Gay Paw.

Hser Gay Paw has been a full-time staff member since 1998. She lives in Chiang Mai with her husband and two daughters. Her weaving and sewing program helps hundreds of individuals each year. Her faith is infectious!

At an early age Hser Gay Paw learned about life’s fragility when tuberculosis took the lives of both her parents. She was sent to live with her grandmother (really her great aunt) in Mae Sot, Thailand. Her grandmother insisted that she not attend school, for fear that it would corrupt her and expose her to undesirable things. During these early years she was acutely exposed to the Karen’s struggle for freedom. It was also during this time that she was exposed to something else that would later become her life’s passion: the art of Karen weaving and sewing. Though her grandmother insisted that she not learn the skill, Hser Gay Paw couldn’t help but be enchanted with the colours, designs and patterns that are evident in Karen weaving. Later, Hser Gay Paw moved to Chiang Mai and, though she did not have a formal education, enrolled in a Karen Bible school. Soon after, she learned how to weave from the women at the school. Around 1997, Hser Gay Paw met Steve & Oddny Gumaer, who had started Partners Relief & Development, and they asked her if she would help them start a weaving project to help Karen women supplement their family’s income. “I was very shy about doing this,” Hser Gay Paw said. However, when Birte Sølversen, a friend of the Gumaer’s, arrived from Norway, Hser Gay Paw found an instant companion to help her put the idea into action. Now, after ten years of tireless work, Hser Gay Paw’s weaving project is having a significant impact on dozens of families, who are desperate to make ends meet along the Thai-Burma border. The women Hser Gay Paw helps, by facilitating the sales of their weaving products, lack education, food, money for their children’s education, and hope. “They need help,” she commented. “This project helps them by earning money for things they need: school fees, and for donations. And, they can make their own clothes. Part of my mission is to help keep this art (of Karen weaving) alive. But more than that, I want to help my people who are very poor and hungry.” Indeed, the women Hser Gay Paw helps have become

family to her. She travels extensively from village to village, encouraging the women, teaching them and helping them learn more about weaving and sewing. “When I go, I get to encourage them, pray for them, love them, and help them. They are like my family. They are very happy that I can help them. When they hear that I am sick, they pray for me all night long. Not only am I helping them, but they are helping me, too. I feel very good to help them, my people. I feel strong inside. This is my mission, my ministry…to help these women and their families have a better life.”

“Hser Gay Paw found an instant companion to help her put the idea into motion.”
So, the next time you think of what a hero is, take a step back and consider someone like Hser Gay Paw, whose heart and spirit are invested in helping Karen women make a better life for themselves. Her work is seen by few–but I contend that her life, though not on the frontlines, is a model of heroism. by Craig Garrison
Photo by Bryan Monzon

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Before he gets to experience the joy of seeing the smiles of the teachers, he has to wander through the valley of death—literally.

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Doh Say

My daughter was sitting on a wooden bench overlooking tall mountains in Shan State. “What is an animal that is kind, smart and strong?” she asked. I replied, “Why are you thinking about that?” She then answered, “I want to compare Doh Say to an animal, and these are all the things Doh Say is”. She was ten, and during the last few days she had gotten to know a man who had become more than an uncle; he was almost everything she thought a good person should be. My family has spent countless evenings praying for Doh Say since we first got to know this man with the smiling eyes. “Girls, we have to pray for Doh Say tonight,” says Daddy. “He just called from the jungle. Tonight he will cross a car road that is patrolled by the Burma Army and it is very dangerous.” Another night he might say, ”I just got off the phone with Doh Say. He said he is with villagers who were attacked yesterday. He is trying to help them the best he and the team can, but it is dangerous to be where they are so we must pray for his safety and for the villagers too.” Doh Say is a Karenni man, who has given his life to serve God and to serve the oppressed peoples of Burma. He is the only person I know who does not actually live anywhere. All his belongings can be found in his backpack. When we occasionally give him some extra money, he smiles and says, ”Thank you. This is great because now I can help more IDPs. I really don’t need much,” he will say. “Just two poles so I can hang my hammock.” He decided to serve his people by fighting for freedom. So he became a soldier, more dedicated to fight for what is right than to kill what is evil. He shares the story of a battle that lasted for days—and that finally left him injured—with a mixture of awe and trembling. And a little bit of humour too. “I decided that God’s word should be my protection,” he recalls. “So I wrote down all of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper twice. I put the psalm in each of my breast pockets, confident that God would protect me. And then I got shot.” He almost died when the bullet went into his body and stopped there. It took him a year to recover, and the scars from his injury are big and frightening. “I felt upset with God after this,” he said. “God, I even had your word in my breast pockets, and still you did not protect me.” Then he added that God used his time in recovery to teach him many valuable lessons. Now Doh Say serves his people as a full-time relief team leader. Parts of the year are spent training new relief teams in the art of saving people who have been attacked by the enemy. Then he spends months in the jungle walking from village to village, and from hide site Doh Say before heading out for a mission, 2007
Photos: Steve Gumaer

to hide site, visiting the teachers that Partners support, and bringing them their salary for the next few months. There are no ATMs in the jungle. Bank transfers are out of the question. The only way to get money into the hands of teachers in Karen State is to physically hand it to them. The teachers are doing a heroic act by teaching children in a war-torn country. Doh Say is the hero who makes it possible for the teachers to teach. “When I go and hand them the money for their salary, their eyes light up because somebody cares about them. That makes my heart full of joy.” But before he gets to experience the joy of seeing the smiles of the teachers, he has to wander through the valley of death—literally. One time he recounted, “The soldiers were so close I could hear them talk. If they had looked in my direction, they would have seen me. All I could say was, ‘Jesus, make me invisible. I kept talking to Jesus while walking, reminding myself that He was there.” Later he said, “It’s not that I mind so much having to be killed by them. It is what they will do to me before they kill me that scares me. The hairs on my back stood up while I snuck by the soldiers,” he admits. “I was so afraid.” I guess one of the things that has impressed me the most about Doh Say is his humanity. He is not a superhero who has no fear. He worries about tomorrow. He feels fear very much, but chooses to do the right thing in spite of it. He is not afraid to talk about his weaknesses and shortcomings. “I wish I was a better person,” he has said. “I was selfish and thought about myself first,” he lamented after one of his trips, when he had not wanted to help a family that was in need. It inspires me to meet a person who has struggles like me, but who consistently chooses to disregard his fears, his weaknesses and his limitations, and follows his Leader into territories that are not safe, nor comfortable, but are still the right place to be. I wonder how he does it, and the only answer I can think of is this: he has his eyes fixed on heaven. He knows that life here is not the end. And I believe that when Doh Say meets Jesus face to face, he will know that all his sacrifices were worth it. by Oddny Gumaer

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PAW HTOO
Golden Flower
I didn't want to walk in the dark so I fetched my flashlight so I could see where I was going. One of my leaders told me to turn it off and put it away. I had to continue walking without seeing where I was going. I felt very unsure. It was a new experience for me.

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Someone once said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Paw Htoo (‘Golden Flower’) lives this mantra on a daily basis, as one of the very few women Rangers in the Free Burma Rangers (FBR). As an FBR nurse/ medic, she has seen things that most of us have never (and will never) see. And yet, this is what one of her FBR comrades had to say about her: “She never stops helping people, even when she is completely spent, tired and hungry at the end of our walks (through the jungle). She is always making sure everyone else’s needs are taken care of before her own. Paw Htoo is more loving, caring and persevering in the face of tremendous challenges than just about anyone I know.” As Paw Htoo grew up in Karen State she dreamed of being a doctor so that she could help those who were sick in her family and village. In 1987, at 17 years of age, Paw Htoo left home to complete a year long Karen medical training program. After graduating, she worked in the local village clinic for two years, during which time there was intense fighting in surrounding areas. It was here that she was first exposed to the horrors of war, as she had many patients to treat–both villagers and soldiers –with gunshot wounds, malaria, diarrohea, landmine injuries and TB. She was then asked to attend a more advanced sixmonth medical training program in another part of Karen State, which, at the time, was the main headquarters for the KNU (Karen National Union), until it fell to the Burma Army in 1995. Her journey to reach this training site took two days by car, boat and foot. On returning to her own village in 1990, she decided to join the KNU as a frontline medic. She took care of wounded soldiers and villagers who had no other medical care available to them. Paw Htoo recalled her first night walk: I didn’t want to walk in the dark so I fetched my flashlight so I could see where I was going. One of my leaders told me to turn it off and put it away. I had to continue walking without seeing where I was going. I felt very unsure. It was a new experience for me. Another leader told me to put my hand on his belt and he would guide me. I found myself being led blind through jungle only being told where the rocks and holes were. We reached the top of the mountain at around 2am. We were allowed to sleep, but first I had to put up my hammock. I had never done this before so I had to ask for help. It was an uncomfortable night, especially as it rained heavily. I was awoken at 4am to begin the climb down the other side of the mountain to the river. When we reached the river we couldn’t cross because it was too full. Thankfully some local villagers had an elephant and they helped us to cross. It wasn’t long after this experience that Paw Htoo fell in love with a KNU soldier and they were married. Sadly, tragedy struck the newlyweds only 11 months later. In 1995 Paw Htoo’s husband was shot by Burma Army soldiers. After they shot him, they tied him up and

dragged him into the bushes. They took off his clothes and stabbed him, then shot him again in the mouth. The soldiers also captured Paw Htoo, who, at the time, was just over three months pregnant. They took her and locked her in a room. Once or twice a week for three months she was taken into an office for questioning. She was then taken to prison to serve a two-year sentence. During that time she continued to demonstrate her incredible resolve as she gave birth to a baby boy. While in labour, Paw Htoo received no medical treatment and had to rely on the friends she had made to help her. Any outside contact was forbidden. Her mother-in-law came to take the baby home when he was just one month old, but she was not allowed to see Paw Htoo. While in prison, a Burman woman began to befriend Paw Htoo. She told her that she was put in jail for selling lottery tickets illegally. However, Paw Htoo became suspicious when the woman began to receive visitors, sometimes three times a week. Paw Htoo later found out that she was in fact an intelligence officer sent to find out information. In late 1993, Paw Htoo was released from prison and she immediately went to her village to see her son and family. She was only able to stay in the village for a few weeks, as the woman from the jail had followed her and it was no longer safe for her to be there. Homeless and without her husband and son, Paw Htoo became very depressed. Soon after, however, one of the leaders of the KNU took her under his wing and began to take care of her. In 1997 she became a Christian. She had been born into a Buddhist family but she now believes that God has watched over her and kept her safe throughout her life. Happily, her son, Eh Htoo Lei Sow, is now also living in Thailand and they see each other often. In 1999, she joined the Free Burma Rangers as a medic and for the last ten years has tirelessly worked deep inside the jungles of Karen State, helping villagers and IDPs. She now helps train other FBR medics. In August of 2000, she met Baw Baw, and they were married in 2005. In 2001, her sister gave birth to twin boys. However, due to medical complications, she tragically died the same day. Paw Htoo and her husband adopted the two boys and are raising them as their own. Paw Htoo still feels sad for her people, but when she sees their suffering it helps her to remain strong, because she knows they need her. She believes that one day her people will be free. She not only believes it, she lives it everyday of her life. by Sarah Armitage

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the wall roes of he
the wall
Saw Mu (Mr. Happy)

the wall of heroes

Saw Mya Win

of heroes the wall the wall of heroes of heroes
Saw Lee Reh

I walked into the bamboo office and noticed some photos on the wall. “This is the Wall of Heroes,” he said. “If your picture is on this wall, you are either dead or in prison.”

the wall of heroes
Shining Moon
Naw Bey Bey (second from the right)
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All photos: FBR

Deep in the jungles of Karen State is the training camp for the FBR relief teams. If you go into the building off towards the edge of the jungle, you will be in the camp office. On one of the walls you will notice some photos. “This is the Wall of Heroes,” the camp leader will tell you. “If your picture is on this wall, you are either dead or in prison.” Here are the stories of some of the people on the Wall of Heroes: Naw Bey Bey Naw Bey Bey is a nurse who works with the Free Burma Rangers and who takes great risks to help her people. This is what one relief team leader said about Naw Bey Bey and the other nurses that worked with her: “The local medics were also amazing. This was a group of five young Karen women who travelled with us while we were in Toungoo District. They were all in their early twenties, pretty, and full of energy. We had to walk over many mountains and these ladies did this in rubber slippers. It was cold every night and they all huddled together in one group, sharing blankets and living no better than the IDPs. While moving, we were often very close to SPDC outposts and patrols, and one morning I asked the nurses if they were afraid of the Burma Army. “Yes, we are very afraid,” they answered. “But we want to help our people, we want to help our Karen Nation, so we try.” In January 2006, Naw Bey Bey was on her way back from visiting her family in Toungoo District, Karen State. She was riding in an oxcart together with a husband and wife when they were stopped by Burma Army soldiers. All three were captured. They have not been seen since, and their whereabouts are unknown. Saw Lee Reh On April 10, 2007, Burma Army troops executed FBR relief team member, Saw Lee Reh Kyaw, after interrogating him at their headquarters. Saw Lee Reh had been captured two days before, on April 8, while he was providing humanitarian assistance for Karenni villagers. Patrolling Burma Army troops opened fire and attacked the village of Ha Lee Ku. Lee Reh was shot in the leg and badly wounded. The Burma Army soldiers captured him, took him to their headquarters, interrogated him, tortured him and then shot and killed him. Lee Reh trained to be a FBR relief team member in 2005 and was in the village to provide medical treatment and to gather information about the abuses the villagers regularly suffer at the hands of the Burma Army. He was a wonderful man who smiled at everything and was one of the outstanding graduates of the FBR program. He was killed doing what he believed in: bringing help to people under oppression. His death is tragic but not in vain. He has left a mark of love and service that made a difference in the lives of those he helped and those who knew him.

Shining Moon Shining Moon, an ethnic Karen Free Burma Ranger team leader, died on 20 May 2008, from complications of acute malaria. He was 26 years-old. His family lives in a forced relocation site in Burma. Shining Moon was one of the first Rangers to regularly infiltrate Burma Army-held areas and send out high quality images and reports of human rights abuses by the dictators. His images and reports have been broadcast around the world. He was a fearless leader and was always at the frontline helping people under attack. Shining Moon also worked in areas and cities under complete Burma Army control. He carried out missions to gather information in order to shine a light on the situation and to build relationships and hope among people under oppression. Along with being an outstanding leader, Shining Moon was a man of compassion and selfless service, who spent most of his time living with people displaced by the Burma Army. Saw Mya Win Saw Mya Win passed away on 29 May 2008, due to an unknown illness. He had been working with a FBR relief team and, during a lull in the Burma Army attacks, had gone home to help his family, who were displaced and in hiding. As he was trying to move them to a safer place, he became ill and died. Due to the attacks of the Burma Army, there was not enough medicine available where he was. Saw Mya Win was the team cameraman, report-writer, and Good Life Club counsellor. He was a very witty and intelligent man and was an outstanding report-writer. His death is a tragedy for his family and for all of us. The loss of this young father and team member is a direct result of the dictators’ misrule of Burma and their attacks on their own people. However, we are grateful for his life and for how he made wherever he was a better place. Mr. Happy Saw Mu (Mr. Happy) died in 2006 in Muthraw District, Karen State, after stepping on a landmine placed by the Burma Army. He was a FBR relief team member, working as a cameraman and a Good Life Club counsellor. He was a bright, humble and brave man, who died shedding light on the Burma Army’s attacks against civilians in the area. That light is still shining. Saw Mu was not only a brave man, but also a man who always had time for laughter and play.

www.partnersworld.org 13

HEROES FROM

the west
Garage Sale

Compassion fatigue. Burnout. Overwhelming needs. It seems like the world is getting to be a more difficult place to live in, not an easier one. It’s easy to forget that, in spite of our daily frustrations and difficulties, our lives are so much better than most people in the world. We forget how truly blessed we are. Below are a few examples of who we, at Partners, consider Heroes. They don’t wear capes. They don’t hit balls a country mile and they haven’t had a hit movie in the last 12 months, as far as we know. They have, however, decided that Jesus’ words are true: it is better to give than to receive. In their own hometowns and local communities they are making a difference in the lives of people they will probably never meet. By their actions they are saying, “I can do something to help the people of Burma.” They’re not flashy or fancy. Just faithful. They are heroes.

Penny Roullier, from Reno, USA, got her whole church involved in a huge garage sale. It was a great community event that not only raised more than US$2,300 for Partners, but also got 75-100 people working together for a common cause, and provided needed items very cheaply to many people.

Young Activism

A Party With a Purpose
Ryan Flaa, who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, wanted to do something different for his birthday last year. He wanted a Party with a Purpose. Instead of presents for him, he asked his friends to bring a blanket that he could pass on to Partners to give to the IDPs hiding in the jungle. He collected 15 blankets and got to share about the refugees from Burma with his friends.
14 PARTNERS MAGAZINE FOURTH QUARTER 2008

photo

No car got to pass the roadblock on the narrow main road on Ytteroy, Norway. The people pulling the cars over were aged between 5 and 9 years old. Five young friends had decided to make a difference in Burma by raising money for Partners. “We are helping Burma,” they told the shocked drivers, who didn’t dare say no to the young activists. They sold raffle tickets and the prizes were grand: pretty seashells and rocks, some old photo frames and braided yarn. By the end of the day they had raised US$90 dollars and a made alot of satisfied customers. “When we told people what we were going to do with the money, they said kind things to us,” said Alexandra (8), Silje (8), Sandra (5), Vilde (7) and Jonas (9).

Barn Dance and Jazz Night
Partners UK, together with Calvary Chapel, Masfield, UK, arranged a Barn Dance to raise money. They invited Karen refugees who had moved into the area and hired a van to bring them to the church. The barn dance was fantastic and the evening also included the Karen performing a song and teaching everyone a traditional Karen dance. Caroline Bird from Buckinghamshire arranged a “Jazz for Burma” evening after a visit to Burma. They got companies to donate, invited along the local press and raised nearly $2,000.

Jar of Change
Tim Bickers, a college student from the US, walked all the floors of his dorm asking the students for their pocket change. After asking about 45 people, the jar weighed 23kg and contained US$449.62. The money was given to Partners. Tim can be sure that this change will make a change!

Dumpster Diving Knitted Jumpers
A group in Wellington, NZ, have been so appalled by the amount of food waste from supermarkets, that they do something called “dumpster diving” at night. After the supermarkets have closed they go to the dumpster and rescue the food (most of it still good) that has been thrown out at the end of the day. They spread the food amongst their community of friends. They are now putting aside the money they save on food, and will be donating it to Partners.

Blankets With Love

Melinda Hambrick, from Kentucky, USA, wanted to do something to help the internally displaced people she had heard about. She gathered women from Ebeneezer Church of Christ and other area churches, and started sewing flannellete blankets. They collected knitted blankets as well. When they counted the blankets, they had 93! These will be sent to Thailand, taken over the mountains of Burma and given to those in hiding, in October.

Early in 2008, Anna Nilsson, Australian wife and busy mother of two, wanted to do something to help the displaced children of Burma. The idea of knitting jumpers for babies came to mind. “My mother-inlaw gave me a simple pattern and knitting is something inexpensive that I can do as I wind down from a busy day. It brings me pleasure to know that I’m helping. I pray for the children that will wear the jumpers, and each one is sent with love from my family.” Anna spoke to friends about the idea, and there are now over 15 people knitting, including a craft group who have been meeting for years. Host, Annette Bird, says that they have taken the ‘jumpers for Burmese babies’ idea on as a group project. Those who don’t knit have contributed funds for posting the jumpers to Chiang Mai. Others who crochet are working on their own patterns.

Fresh Waffles For Sale

Violin Concert
Eight year-old Victoria collected US$168 by holding a violin concert, and by telling her friends to give money to Partners instead of giving her a present for her birthday. What a great idea!

Gunhild Nost (6) and Kristin Gumaer (6) baked and sold waffles in front of the local store at Ytteroy, Norway. The inhabitants of Ytteroy flocked to the girls’ little store. They bought fresh waffles, cake and coffee, and sat on the chairs placed around the Partners table. “What a great idea!” they all said, while the girls handed out Partners promotional material along with the waffles. At the end of the day they had sold US$750 worth of waffles and cake!

www.partnersworld.org 15

Kath with a sick woman in Rangoon, June 2008
Photo: private

A gentle squeeze of the hAnd
Partners staff member, Kathryn Halley, was one of a privileged few foreigners who gained access to the Irrawaddy Delta area following Cyclone Nargis. She spent time visiting villages and meeting some of those who have managed to get aid through the Burma regime’s tightly secured disaster area. She writes:
These local “aid” workers, despite ethnicity or religious differences, believe in the common value of human life. Many volunteered their time with no likelihood of earthly reward and assisted in the clean-up process —witnessing more horrific images during that time than anyone should ever see in a lifetime. And yet, each of their lives has made a significant difference to those that they served. It was a privilege to meet such incredibly kind and generous people. They have been integral in delivering food, shelter, even clothing provisions to the very thankful villagers. I saw first hand the people’s ongoing desperate need for food, shelter, medicine and clothing. It was a privilege to witness how effective many local groups have been in getting aid deep into the cyclone ravaged areas. I heard many stories of grief and tragedy from the cyclone survivors. I told them that my presence was backed by much love and prayers from the many people who support Partners’ work and other organisations from around the world. Many seemed encouraged that people so far away would be interested in their plight. Many villagers told stories of rising fear every time it rains or the wind is strong. It is now the monsoon season with fear seemingly a daily occurrence. Survival stories were often harrowing and the grief tangible, yet God had opened the door for me to meet with these people. What difference can one person make? One husband and wife lost both of their mothers. The wife grimaced as she shared that they heard her mother calling for help from the rice field but both her and her

16 PARTNERS MAGAZINE FOURTH QUARTER 2008

IT WAS AS IF SHE TOLD THE STORY FOR THE FIRST TIME – WHO ELSE AROUND HER HAD THE STRENGTH TO LISTEN WHEN EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN TRAGIC STORY?

Child in Rangoon after Cyclone Nargis
Photo: Chris Dolan

husband were carrying two children each, trying to keep their heads above the rising water. This couple lost their home and all of their belongings but fortunately all of their children miraculously survived. I empathised with her terrible grief. Who could ever truly imagine its depth? It was as if she told the story for the first time – who else around her had the strength to listen when everyone has their own tragic story. So God supplied the ears of an Australian. Wanting to relieve some of the weight of responsibility bearing down on this lady of similar age, I attempted to reassure her that her own motherly instinct for the safety of her children is exactly the instinct her mother would have had for her, willing her and her grandchildren’s survival. But really, words are often no comfort are they? A gentle squeeze of the hand and a blessing over their new home and her family was my feeble attempt at telling her that she is not alone and that many of us have been deeply moved into action, aiming to help restore hope and a future. Amidst the tragedy, there were many stories of miraculous survival. Many villagers huddled together in monastries and churches for safety. In one village, three

babies were born during the cyclone. Anyone who has given birth has to admire these women and babies for their tenacity and survival instinct! What a privilege to hear these people’s stories, to see the ongoing delivery of aid and provisions, and to offer a small sense of hope and purpose amongst the chaos. Not speaking Burmese didn’t seem to be a barrier to my attempt at using my life to make a difference. It’s amazing how a squeeze of the hand or a reassuring smile crosses all boundaries. Of course, surviving the cyclone was a miracle for many, and yet in many ways I feel that the journey has only just begun for these people. With entire communities now under reconstruction, survivors are pleading for ongoing supplies of food, shelter, equipment and rice seeds for farming. They are especially grateful for the love that has been expressed through the aid received already. A little bit really is going a long way! by Kathryn Halley

www.partnersworld.org 17

Looking For A Meaningful Christmas Present?
You can find it at the Partners Store
Displaced Reflections As the designer and editor of Partners’ magazine, co- founder of Partners Relief & Development, and tireless advocate for the people of Burma, Oddny Gumaer’s experiences and writing will inspire and challenge you. Along with Oddny’s prose is the stunning photography of Brent Madison, capturing the essence of Burma’s oppressed yet beautiful people. In this hardback book of photos and reflections, Oddny does more than tell stories. She opens a door for us to live in the shoes of people who define what it means to demonstrate grace under pressure. AU$ 26.00 / NZ$30.00 / UK£10.00 (plus shipping and handling)

2009 Calendar The 2009 Partners Calendar is full of beautiful, inspiring photos that bring you face to face with the people of Burma. AU$10.00 / NZ$10.00 / UK£6.00 (plus shipping and handling)

Greeting Cards The Partners Greeting Cards (blank inside) include 5 cards of each captivating design. Each set of ten cards includes envelopes. AU$12.50 / NZ$15.00 / UK£6.00 (plus shipping and handling)

Partners T-Shirts Our range of 100% cotton T-shirts provide a challenge to take action against injustice. Check your country’s online store for availability. Made in Thailand. AU$10 / NZ$12 / UK£6 (plus shipping and handling)

ORDER ALL ITEMS AND MORE AT OUR ONLINE STORE:
www.partnersworld.org.au (Australia) www.partnersworld.org.uk (United Kingdom) www.partnersworld.org.nz (New Zealand)

18 PARTNERS MAGAZINE FOURTH QUARTER 2008

New Partners Staff
SARAH LAPA Sarah joined the Partners team in September 2008, as our Children's Projects Coordinator (Chiang Mai field office) and Shan Projects Assistant. Sarah comes to us with a wealth of experience in the area of child welfare and has a heart for God that is second to none. She also fluently speaks more than six languages! We are excited that she has come on board with us and look forward to seeing how God will use her as we seek to love the widow, the orphan and the stranger. If you would like to email her, please do so at sarah.lapa@partnersworld.org.

BOONSONG THANFRITHONG Boonsong joined our staff in early June 2008, as our Director of Development and was almost immediately asked to go to Burma to assist with the relief work related to Cyclone Nargis (how's that for being thrown into the fire?). Boonsong has earned his Master's Degree in Development from Chiang Mai University and brings a passion and tenacity for helping people help themselves. We are VERY blessed to have him with us and we all have much to learn from him. If you'd like to email him, please do so at boonsong@partnersworld.org.

PrAY
What do you hope for? What sets a hero apart from the rest of the crowd is their capacity to give themselves fully to the hope that has captured their heart. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 Think of the heroes who hope to see a better day for Burma and so risk their freedom and their lives to go inside and provide hope and help to the people. Pray for the medics, the counsellors, those documenting people's stories, those delivering supplies. Pray especially for those who have risked so much to journey into the Delta of Burma and assist with relief and development, and provide the people in the Delta with hope, reminding them that they are not forgotten. Heroes are willing to run into a dangerous situation because their focus is not the danger, but the hope that burns within them. This is the situation for those who are reaching out to individuals in Burma's military regime, showing them love, remembering that it is not a "struggle against flesh and blood, but against the…powers of this dark world…" Ephesians 6:12. Pray for these people. Praise God for the "everyday unsung heroes." These are the people who are not on the frontline, but whose hearts and spirits are invested in helping the people of Burma. Pray that more heroes would be raised up to help provide hope to the people of Burma. Pray also that Partners remains faithful and tenacious in the pursuit of God's will; that we too will walk in the footsteps of Christ, our ultimate hero.
www.partnersworld.org 19

We are very happy to welcome Pastor Peacefully to the Partners staff as a part-time Childcare Projects Assistant in Mae Sot. Over the past few years he has helped establish a school and dormitory in the Phop Phra migrant community and is committed to helping Karen children who cross the border find a place of safety to live and gain a good education. He brings to us a greater insight into how we can best serve and help the Karen children we are called to on this side of the border. Please pray for Pastor Peacefully and his family as he seeks to serve God and his people through the work of Partners. If you would like to email him, please do so at peacefully@partnersworld.org.

PASTOR PEACEFULLY

Photo: Chris Dolan

“The only thing needed for wicked men to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”

Martin Luther King

Partners Relief & Development Australia PO Box 13 Alstonville NSW 2477 Australia info@partnersworld.org.au www.partnersworld.org.au

Partners Relief & Development UK 15 Kingsthorpe Close, Forest Town, Mansfield, Notts NG19 0PD UK info@partnersworld.org.uk www.partnersworld.org.uk

Partners Relief & Development NZ PO Box 40 284 Upper Hutt New Zealand info@partnersworld.org.nz www.partnersworld.org.nz

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