Our Lady of Grace & St Edward Lenten Appeal 2006

Chiswick's Catholic community aims to raise funds for Burmese refugees

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LENTEN GOAL – £20,000
3 orphanages help 120 children
Running Cost for 3 orphanages £15,338
One child per year £128
One child per month £10.66
Kindergarten cares for 220 children
To feed all the children per month £200
To feed all the children Per week £50
Income Generating Projects -
Helping 60 families a month by
providing tools, livestock and seeds £30

Remember in your prayers the people who are helped by this project, and the people at JRS who run it.
CASH donations can be put in the Lenten Appeal Box at the back of the Church

CHEQUES need to be made payable to “Our Lady of Grace”
GIFT AID – If you are a taxpayer the Parish can reclaim the tax on your donation and send it to the
project. This means that your donation is worth 28% more. All you have to do is sign the Gift Aid envelope that is at the back of the church. This will make a big difference to the total raised so please donate this way if you pay tax.

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This year the parish community of Our Lady of Grace & St Edwards are aiming to raise funds to help orphans, children and landmine victims who have fled from Burma into Thailand.

Burma is ruled by a military junta that has been accused of gross human rights abuses. This includes the forcible removal of people from their homes, particularly the ethnic minorities. There is also widespread use of men, women and children for forced labour. The ethnic groups that are particularly targeted are the Shan, Karen, Karenni and Mon. There is also oppression of religious minorities which includes Christians.

It is now estimated that 691,000 people have fled from Burma into neighbouring countries, and one of these countries is Thailand.
No parents or home to go back to, an uncertain future ahead. The Shan people who seek refuge in Thailand are in particularly desperate circumstances. Historically they have not been allowed to register as refugees and this means they have no status, protection or rights. Shan refugees cannot register any of their children who are born in Thailand, which in turn makes them ‘stateless’. They cannot work legally and so are exploited in dangerous jobs and underpaid. Their children cannot attend Thai school, they cannot even go to Thai hospitals for fear of being deported back to Burma and all that waits for them there.

The Jesuit Refugee Service helps these people who have to live in small and hidden communities. They help by supporting small projects that help with education, income generation, medical aid including landmine victims, and or course helping the orphaned children who are particularly vulnerable. JRS have years of experience and this is a well-run project where your donations will be carefully used to help the maximum number of people.

JRS are supporting 3 orphanages. The parents of these children died while trying to escape or after they arrived. There are 120 children in the three small orphanages. The children are cared for, educated and, given what has happened to them, managing to grow up in a happy environment even though their future is uncertain. Mary, an elderly Burmese lady, runs one of the orphanages. Mary was an orphan herself and had been cared for and educated by Christian nuns in Burma. She believes that it is her duty to care for these children, as she was cared for many years before. Mary runs a tight ship and has no illusions about how hard life will be for these children, particularly if they are not allowed to return to Burma. They will have to support themselves in a world where they belong nowhere and to no one, and have no official status. 
Mary makes sure that while the children are with her they are well educated, and both boys and girls learn how to weave, grow vegetables and care for livestock.

JRS provide food and carers for 220 children at a Kindergarten. Their parents have to find work of some sort if they are to survive – the kindergarten provides a safe place for the children to stay while their parents do this.

Education is highly valued by the Burmese and it is important to educate young refugees so that if and when they can return to their country they have something to contribute. JRS help by providing books, building classrooms and training teachers.

JRS have helped to fund the development of income generation by providing weaving looms.
The Shan have a rich tradition of weaving and 220 children are cared for at the Kindergarten so that their parents can try and find some kind of work to keep their families alive. The Shan value education and full use is made of the small school that has been built for children and adults. This little boy has no one left to care for him except his elderly grandmother. The rest of his family are dead. Here they are with all their possessions. produce beautiful cloth that they use for their own needs and for sale locally. This produces a small income and also helps to keep their traditional skills and culture alive.

Your donations will also help to provide tools, seeds and chickens to new arrivals so that they can grow some of their own food.

The Shan people arrive in Thailand exhausted and terrified after their trek through the jungle. During their journeys they frequently have to hide and try to avoid army patrols. When they arrive in Thailand they literally have only what they stand up in or can carry. Sometimes children are born while they are trying to escape. These people have to live in small unofficial refugee camps so that they do not attract attention and face deportation. When these families arrive JRS make sure that they are issued with blankets, a cooking pot and some basic rations. Bamboo is provided to the community and the people build their own small huts. The Shan people work hard in these communities to look after each other and they have a deep tradition of looking after their extended families.

March 17, 2006