GraciousLives Winter/Spring 2008
The World’s eyes on Myanmar World wide attention has again focussed on Myanmar for all the wrong reasons.
said it was for his wife who had no clothes and was hiding under a tree.
The cyclone devastation has left the country torn apart socially, economically, and politically.
Of a more sinister and evil development is the securing of children for sexual exploitation. Paedophilia is now a major problem. World Vision have recently launched a program in Yangon called “Hidden Lives, Hidden Voices” in an attempt to rescue children at risk.
Exact figures of lives lost will never be really known, but there is no doubt that close to 200,000 people have died. Many more are injured and food and water-borne diseases are causing further deaths. GraceWorks is pleased to announce that none of our workers and children have died as a result of the cyclone. Many of the buildings were damaged but most have now been repaired. Our farm project at Poogee Village has been destroyed. However, the replanting of trees and vegetable plantations are well under way. GW has been networking with Orphans Hope (USA) in the rebuilding and food programs for all our orphanages. However, the tragic stories of survival are now beginning to emerge. Thousands of people are converging on Yangon - including many more orphans who have lost their families. They come to the city in the hope of gaining food and shelter. One group of over 500 children are being cared for by one of our co-workers. They have arrived with no food, no shelter and little clothing. GW will be working with this team to provide support for these children. One man arrived requesting an empty rice bag. When asked why he wanted an empty bag he
What is GW doing? Our primary task has been to:
• secure the buildings
• maintain the food supply
• provide support for our existing orphanages all of whom have taken more children
One of our longer term goals is to provide funding and support for programs such as “Hidden Lives, Hidden Voices”. Another request we have received is to assist in the reclaiming of deceased children and families by providing coffins and funding for funeral services. Many have died and been washed away and families have requested memorial services. As the water has receded, more and more bodies are being exposed. While the news services around the world have now turned their attention to other crisis the real enormity of this tragedy is only beginning to unfold. A GW team will visit Myanmar in July for further assessment of our role in providing support and resources in the most effected areas.
"GraceWorks Myanmar is a Christian based organisation and functions according to Christian principles and ethics".
From the Chairman’s Desk
Our mission is to provide humanitarian aid through health and education programs, to improve the quality of life and well-being of the people of Myanmar
I am often asked how difficult is it to work in such a challenging place as Myanmar. Its a good question but not an easy one to answer. There is nothing that can prepare a person for the sheer tragedy of having a baby die in your arms or turning people away as they plead for food for their children. That such circumstances could evolve in this modern age with such incredible resources and technology at our finger tips is a reflection on all of humanity. How can a young girl of 10 years of age be forced to sell herself to gain food for her younger siblings? This is the reality of life in Myanmar. It does not matter whether we have children of our own or not - we can all be a part of the answer. We are all a part of the greater humanity of mankind. GW desperately needs your involvement. Volunteers in many areas are working tirelessly to raise funds and increase the public profile of GW. There are to many people to thank for your recent generosity. Over the past month we have raised over $30000 with the promise of more to come. It is important for all GW supporters to realise that our aid money does reach the appropriate people in Myanmar. We do not pay any money to the Military. People should not withhold giving for fear of the money being misused. GW staff personally oversee the allocation of funding and the completion of all our projects. Unfortunately, the world media have created a level of uncertainty by the constant focus on the military regime and their lack of response to the relief efforts. Our support is getting through and we have no reason to believe that this access will not continue. We also have no problems in getting visa approvals. It is also important to be aware that GW has never had any Military intervention in any of our projects and on occasions the Military have assisted us in certain areas. While there are reports of aid being blocked and diverted this has not been the case for GW and our networking friends, Orphans Hope and Asia Heartbeat. My request is “please do not punish the people of Myanmar for the deeds of a Government they had no say in electing”. The effects of the cyclone will change the way we operate in Myanmar for many years to come. The challenges are daunting. But we can and are making a difference. For this influence to continue and grow, we must increase our supporter base. Please tell a friend about GraceWorks – don’t keep it a secret. Peter Simmons (Chairman GraceWorks Myanmar)
2008 Annual GraceWorks Golf Day Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out to play in the midday sun so the saying goes. Except to play in the annual GW golf day. In very hot and trying conditions our golfers again excelled in a day which produced some outstanding golf. We welcomed Paulo Montoya who came with an awesome reputation and even more challenging handicap of zero. Paulo was the 2005 Central American Amateur Champion. He is captain of St Marys Golf Club in Sydney. He is also captain of the NSW University Team. He will be representing Costa Rica in the World Amateur Team Championships in Adelaide in October this year. However our congratulations go to the team from Stockdale Printstaff - skillfully led by Rob Fellows who won the tournament. Rob’s brilliant technical expertise shone through and enabled his team to win the tournament. Our thanks to the many corporate supporters who enabled us to raise a total of $8366.00. Thank you also for the tremendous support from the staff at Ringwood Golf Club.
Please make a note in your dairies: Next years event will be on Monday 2nd March at 12.00pm at Ringwood Golf Club.
The winning team
So Blessed What a privilege it was to be accepted into the homes and lives of these beautiful orphaned children and the dedicated people who care for them. In each orphanage our team was introduced to the children who embraced us with smiling faces and singing to welcome us. We visited six orphanages. In four we built swings, monkey bars, and see-saws. The delight on the children’s faces when they had their first swing or see-saw was something to behold. During the building process, the older boys worked side by side with us, learning new skills. These boys are very intelligent and very keen to learn. It didn’t matter what the task entailed - whether it was digging holes in the hard ground, or hammering nails, or drilling holes, they were very eager to do anything to learn more. We were thrilled to be invited to stay the night at Full Moon Orphanage. After a hard days work, we enjoyed a wonderful evening playing guitar and singing with some of the older boys. We slept and ate as they did, which gave us a real insight into the day to day struggle these people have.
Gary True (left) and Pastor Khai, from
Elim Children’s Home
My time in Myanmar turned out to be so much more than just building playground equipment and teaching these young boys new skills. The personalities and out going nature of all the children, who just loved to take your hand and lead you into their world, had a big impact on me personally. My heart and prayers go out to the children and their house parents as I go back to such a different world. Gary True is a builder and painter from Yarrawonga, Victoria. This was his first trip to Myanmar.
Embassy visits farming project Australian embassy official Simon Harrison recently visited Garden Home farming project as a guest of GW chairman Peter Simmons. Garden Home is a networking project between GW and Orphans Hope USA. Currently we have submission for an irrigation and pumping station at Garden Home to allow this farming project to extend its fruit and vegetable plantations. This farm also provides work for the local village as well as training in farming and animal husbandry for the older children at the orphanage. GW has received 2 funding allocations from the Australian Embassy through its DAP program (direct aid project).
The first allocation was to establish our Kids Land preschool and education centre and the second to purchase bunk beds and desks for Elim Children’s Home. GW thanks the Embassy staff particularly Ambassador Bob Davis (who has recently completed his tenure in Yangon) and Simon for their tremendous support and encouragement.
Peter Simmons (left) & Sim on Harrison (right)
Having an Influence...bringing hope to Myanmar GW member Jenny Webb writes: This is Lang Sian Sum. He is 7 years old. I first met him on a visit to Elim Children’s Home in August 2007. His mother died when he was only 7 months old. His father had managed to care for him and his four older sisters until he too died, probably of tuberculosis, earlier last year. Sian Sum suffers from a congenital hip Jenny with Lang Sian Sum dislocation. Here, the condition would have been treated in infancy and he might have lived a normal life. Instead, a lack of weight-bearing exercise has left him severely disabled. His physical development has suffered and his mobility is restricted. Graceworks was asked to provide him with a wheelchair. With little knowledge of his condition, instinct suggested that immobilising him further was not the answer. Only the day before, I been taken to visit Eden School for children with disabilities. Here a remarkable woman, Lillian Gyi, educates and treats children with physical and intellectual disabilities. She also runs an
outreach program and has recently opened a training centre for the older children. She is also planning a sheltered workshop and residential facility for these students. When I visited Elim again in April, Sian Sum showed me his new calliper which had allowed him some mobility. We were anxious to have him assessed by one of Lillian’s physiotherapists in order to support him with exercises to strengthen his withered leg and the rest of his tiny body and to improve his quality of life in the long-term. Miraculously, with only a few hours before the beginning of Water Festival (when everything shuts down in Myanmar for five days), we were able to transport him to Eden. He was assessed and given an exercises program and a Graceworks-funded pedalling frame. Lillian will now review his condition every six months. I look forward to hearing of his progress and to knowing that, one day, he has achieved his dream of playing football. Jenny Webb is a teacher from Seymour, Victoria. Jenny has introduced teaching programs to teach teachers as well as overseeing our preschool in Yangon. She has been to Myanmar 4 times.
Tax Deductabilty Are GW donations tax deductable? The answer is NO.
Due to the recent events in Myanmar travel has been restricted. There will be no further team trips in 2008. Dates have not been set for 2009. When the dates are confirmed they will appear in our newsletter and on the web page. For further information on team trips and to download a “I would like to take a trip” form please visit: www.graceworksmyanmar.org.au/pdf/trip.pdf
However, for companies to claim a deduction they can advertise in our golf tournament or on our forthcoming new web page as a corporate sponsor.
We are frequently asked how much money is allocated to administration. We have a constitutional requirement that no more than 15% (15 cents in every dollar) goes to administration.
We are currently working on a submission to the Tax Office that potentially will enable us to claim certain projects as tax deductable. The guidelines are very narrow and it is extremely difficult to gain tax deductability.
This is a very small amount in terms of our ability the produce this newsletter, maintain a web page and produce promotional material. All our printing costs are provided free and most of the graphic art preparation is donated.
The constitution also allows for one airfare to Myanmar per year to be allocated to the Chairman or a designated board member.
Please note if you are sending a cheque to GW it must be written as follows: “GraceWorks Myanmar Inc.” The bank will reject the cheque if it is not written correctly.
If you are making direct credits into the GW account please send an accompanying email stating your name and address so we can send you a receipt.
GW’s has recently commissioned Redroar web page consultants to build a new web page which will expand our ability to keep you updated on a more regular basis.
GW email address: email@example.com
The new site should be online by September 1st 2008
Don’t forget to visit the GraceWorks website at www.graceworksmyanmar.org.au Also, let us know if you have heard the GraceWorks radio promotion on 89.9 Light FM
Donation Slip I would like to make a donation today:
■ $25 ■ $50 ■ $100 ■ $250 ■ Other $
You can donate direct debit to GraceWorks Account: BSB 083 132 Account No: 57–084–3050 Bank: National Australia Bank – Blackburn, Victoria
■ I have enclosed a cheque / money order or please debit my: ■ Mastercard
■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■
Card no.: Cardholder’s signature: Title:
Please return to: GraceWorks Myanmar PO Box 245 Blackburn VIC 3130 Ph: (03) 9872 5242 Fax: (03) 9873 5031
Expiry date: Surname:
Address: Postcode: Email: Please send me more in f ormation about: ■ Becoming a volunteer ■ Leaving a bequest in my will to GraceWorks
'Gracious Lives' is full of information and articles about Myanmar, and about the great work that both GraceWorks and GraceWorks supporters...