|PIC1|The suffering of the people of Burma became even greater in 2008, when Cyclone Nargis devastated the lives of those living in the Irrawaddy Delta, the main rice production region of the country.
Saw Ler Lah is a survivor who sought refuge in the already under-resourced border camps following the Cyclone. He recalls, "I said to the people in my village to take shelter in the church. We stayed there throughout the night and listened to the cyclone. When we came out in the morning, everything was gone."
In addition to this disaster, the global food price crisis brought further suffering to the already impoverished people of Burma.
Sally Thompson, Deputy Director of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) said "we are in a critical time because of the global food crisis and the cyclone in Burma." These problems cannot be ignored as the health and well being of 140,000 refugees is at stake.
Thompson said of Cyclone Nargis, "It has brought many issues to a head at the same time. We have to be flexible to deal with the emergency inside the country; at the same time we have to remain open to the fact that Burma is still generating new arrivals of refugeesâ¦If we do not get a certain amount of dollars, we will have no choice but to cut the ration."
Australians have been drawn into Burma's tragic narrative as more of us have come to recognise the inhumane situation in which our close neighbours live. During a period of such uncertainty, it is critical that the Christmas Bowl assists the TBBC in maintaining stability in the conflict-ridden border area.
This year, the Christmas Bowl hopes to provide food, shelter and income generating activities to more than 5000 Burmese refugees. As the price of rice has more than doubled in the wake of Cyclone Nargis and the global food crisis in Burma, assistance for Burmese refugees should be on everyone's agenda this Christmas. By giving just $76 to this year's Christmas Bowl, you can provide food for a family of four refugees for one month.
The Christmas Bowl is a program of act for peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.