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Making a difference in Myanmar

Making a difference in Myanmar

A more peaceful time - from my trip to Myanmar in 2015. A temple in Bagan, the most sacred site in the country.

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane. – Mahatma Gandhi”

 

For the next two weeks we will be donating 20% of every single sale to the charity Better Burma who are providing humanitarian support for the people of Myanmar.

 

Some of you may remember we ran a similar campaign a few months ago which was a great success and allowed us to donate a good sum of money towards the Better Burma mission - so we want to do it again. This latest campaign which will run from 14th October - 28th October will be accompanied by a podcast interview (Joah, the charity’s ambassador interviewed me recently about sati and why I felt called to help Better Burma) so I will post a link to that when it goes live! As someone who isn’t naturally confident speaking in the public domain, this podcast was a significant milestone for me - nothing like getting out of your comfort zone - but this cause is so close to my heart that it didn’t feel scary, rather it energised me to know that we can make a difference together and raise awareness of the situation in Myanmar in the process.

 

To give you some context of what is happening, Myanmar was taken over by an unelected military government back in February 2021 and since that day this so-called ‘government’ have been waging war on their own people, killing, bombing, raping, robbing, imprisoning and torturing anyone who opposes their rule (which is pretty much all of the population) in the name of power and control. This senseless and indiscriminate violence has created a terror state where people are scared for their lives and many are in temporary camps after their homes were burnt down by the military. According to Aljazeera, ‘Junta forces have killed more than 2,000 civilians, arrested more than 14,000, displaced more than 700,000, driving the number of internally displaced persons well over one million, and plunged the country into an economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives and wellbeing of millions. The military’s attacks on the people of Myanmar constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. No one has been spared the impact of the military’s violence.’

Not even the monks and nuns have escaped the crackdown. This beautiful country, where the Buddha’s teachings were preserved in their pristine purity over millennia, has been plunged into a period of darkness that provides a stark contrast to the path of Dhamma (that is, the path of light and peace that the Buddha taught). In recent months, nuns have been brutally beaten and monasteries and Buddhist children’s schools have been subjected to targeted air strikes by the military. This sort of news cuts to the core; a Dhamma land destroying its own Dhamma heritage, including those who are practicing it. Targeting those who are preserving these sacred teachings and working for the liberation of all beings is not just incomprehensible, it is heinous. To add to this sad situation, monasteries and nunneries are now in crisis because many of the lay people (that is the normal members of society) who would normally offer up food or ‘alms’ to the monks on a daily basis are unable to feed their families let alone give food away. Can you imagine living in a country where your own government were willing to go to any lengths to sabotage your right to live in peace?

A monastery in Karen state before the military bombed it

The ruins of the monastery after the airstrike

As a Vipassana meditator who has visited Myanmar and now has friends in the country, it has been devastating to witness these events unfolding from afar. The people I met there were some of the warmest, friendliest I have encountered on my travels and to think of the suffering they are currently enduring is utterly heart-breaking. As with much foreign news, the crisis has gone largely unreported (one can only assume that this is because it falls short of media/political agendas) but thanks to Insight Myanmar, the platform from which Better Burma was born, I have been able to keep up with the latest developments, both good and bad. I also have a Burmese friend who lives in the UK who has been keeping me updated, however the military have such a tight hold over what information gets out of the country that it is hard, even for her, to keep up with the latest news. She hasn’t been able to visit her family in Myanmar for nearly 2 years now and when she talks to them on Zoom, they can’t discuss anything to do with the current situation in case the line is bugged. And her family have told her not to come and visit in case she gets arrested at the airport. This is how things are in Myanmar at the moment; people can be arrested for no apparent reason and their fate is in the hands of the military who have proven they are devoid of any conscience. Can you even imagine?

So, it goes without saying that Better Burma are playing a crucial role in this devastating scenario that the country finds itself in. They have been providing dana, food and basic supplies to communities that have been affected by the crisis and arranging for essentials to reach the people who need them most. They also support the CDM (civil disobedience movement) which is one of the core activities of the nonviolent protest. As more and more civil servants refuse to go to work, the military regime is not able to properly run the country. However, as striking workers forfeit their salary, they need support for basic living costs so Better Burma provide funds for donors who are willing to support CDM. Other aid efforts include providing covid relief and helping IDP camps (internally displaced person camps) where thousands of people are now homeless after the military burned their villages down.

 

If you would like to help the work of this amazing non-profit organisation, please consider purchasing one of our meditation cushions, or any one of our products by 28th October. Not only will you be helping yourself on your mindfulness journey, you will be directly contributing to the happiness of someone whose life has been affected by tragedy and loss. If you would like to make a direct donation to the charity you can do so here

 

Thank you so much for your help.

Claire x

 

Images courtesy of Insight Myanmar

 

 

 

 

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