We have recently created a Facebook page which we hope people will find is an easy way to keep in touch with news and pictures about our fund and how we help children in Burma. Click here to view our page now.
There is also a Blog on our website which we will use for longer articles about our fund and items of interest about wider non-political aspects of life in Burma.
20 pence a week would pay for a child to go to school next year. Can you spare it? – if so visit one of our Just Giving Pages. Thanks.
Our Web Team Rawnet Raise Money
A huge thank you to the guys at RAWNET for a very successful Charity Bake Sale yesterday at their HQ in Ascot. Thanks to their star bakers they raised an amazing £260 for us at the Burma Children’s Fund. To top that, Rawnet has offered to match this to give us a grand total of £520 raised! Great efforts and thanks to everyone there with their big hearts and deep pockets.
The money will pay for children to go to school and helps with providing showers and toilets at orphanages.
Love Running Cardiff Raise Money
LOVE RUNNING CARDIFF. The BCF founders were delighted to be invited by a fantastic team of people to receive a cheque for £3,345.00 to support the children in Burma. The runners, led by Stuart Hardisty, trained for weeks and they all took part in the Cardiff 10Km run. Their ‘feat’ will now be flying round the world!!! BCF are so grateful for their wonderful support and will make sure that the children will benefit from their enthusiasm and generosity. LOVE RUNNING is a great way to keep fit and to help others. Keep on training all you good people.
Local Care Advisors
BCF has been funding a clinic for poor people who cannot afford health care. Over 800 have attended what has been a pilot scheme. We also arranged for two adults to train at the clinics to work as local health care advisors. We heard recently that they have both successfully competed their training and received their certificates. We shall evaluate the results and hope to extend this approach to local health care.
Despite the recession we raised £71,000 last financial year. We have already donated £50,000 of this and the rest will be used in Burma shortly. Our policy is to distribute donations directly to the children as soon as practical. Please help us to rebuild our funds for next year in any way you can help. Thank you so much from us all at BCF.
Donations for the Financial Year
£49,657 was the total of our donations in our last financial year [to 31 May 2012]. This paid for poor children in Burma to attend school, provided showers and toilets at orphanages, helped the homeless, fed the hungry and made a difference to their lives. Please help us to keep up with this work this year!
Support via our Just Giving Page
More thanks for our supporters, Shahada and Ambya who have donated via Just Giving and Yakub and Mazin who have both created Just Giving Fundraising Pages. The BCF is non-political charity and makes donations to support children in need from ALL ethnic backgrounds in Burma.
Donations instead of Wedding Gifts
Our special thanks to Andrew and Hnin who were married recently. They asked their wedding guests to make a donation to our fund in lieu of gifts. This was a lovely idea of theirs. Thanks to the generous support of their friends and relatives we have been able to pay for more young children to go to school in Burma.
14th February 2012
Four years ago today, gunmen under orders from Burma’s dictatorship came to a house in Thailand in broad daylight and shot dead a man as he sat on his veranda.
The man who was assassinated was the General Secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan, one of the most prominent spokesmen for Burma’s ethnic nationalities.
Just three days before his assassination, I had spent half a day with Padoh Mahn Sha. I knew him well, and always visited him whenever I was on the Thai-Burmese border. His children are friends of mine. I had met some young men whom he was sheltering, who had escaped from the Burma Army into which they had been forcibly conscripted as child soldiers. I had lunch with Padoh Mahn Sha and other Karen leaders, and sat on the very same veranda where the assassins struck three days later.
The murder of Mahn Sha illustrates the lengths to which Burma’s regime has been prepared to go to silence its opponents. It dealt a severe blow not only to the Karen people, one of Burma’s largest people groups, but to all the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement as a whole. While devoted to his people and proud of his Karen identity, Mahn Sha was a man who saw the bigger picture, drew people together and built bridges to others who shared his cause. An Animist among a predominantly Christian Karen leadership in a majority Buddhist people, a Pwo Karen from the Delta among Sgaw Karen from the hills, a principled man with a pragmatic outlook able to chart a course between so-called ‘hard-liners’ and those wanting to engage the regime, he developed strong links with other ethnic nationals and Burma’s democracy movement, and became a respected and articulate international spokesman.
Four years after his assassination, his killers have never been caught. The situation in the country, however, has changed. For the first time in more than 20 years there is at least the possibility of real change, although there is still a very long way to go. Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, for years under house arrest, is now contesting parliamentary by-elections along with her colleagues in the National League for Democracy (NLD) in 48 seats. It is likely many of them will win, giving them a presence in parliament which will not change the country overnight, but may begin to influence governance for the better. The regime has negotiated preliminary ceasefire agreements with several of the ethnic armed groups, including the KNU, who have been fighting a civil war for sixty five years.
Despite the change in atmosphere in Burma in the past six months, there remain some fundamental challenges which are key to lasting peace.
The first is the need for a political process to accompany ceasefire negotiations. Until a meaningful, inclusive nationwide dialogue between the regime, the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement takes place, ceasefires will result in an absence of fighting rather than a true peace. Ultimately, only a political solution that satisfies the desires of the ethnic nationalities and is acceptable to all the people of Burma will end decades of civil war.
That solution must include equal rights for all the people, respect for the ethnic, cultural and religious identity of the different nationalities that make up Burma, and a degree of autonomy and self-determination for each ethnic group, within a united, federal, democratic nation. Federalism has long been misunderstood by the military, who fear it equals secession. In reality, they need only to look at the models of the United States or Germany to see that federalism is the way to strengthen the unity of the nation. “Unity in diversity” should be the principle in people’s minds.
Such a political settlement must be accompanied by reform of the military, repeal of unjust legislation and amendment of the constitution, so that there are institutional safeguards to ensure that peace and progress is embedded and cannot easily be reversed. The rule of law is central to Burma’s reform.
Burma’s military has a track record of appalling human rights violations, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity: rape as a weapon of war, forced labour, the destruction of villages, homes and crops, the use of human minesweepers and child soldiers, torture and extrajudicial killings. These crimes continue today.
Last month I visited the Kachin people on the China-Burma border, where 55,000 have been displaced in a new offensive launched by the regime’s army. For 17 years, a ceasefire existed between the regime and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), which, contrary to its name, is fighting for autonomy and equal rights within a united Burma, not separation. In June 2011, the regime broke the ceasefire when the KIO refused to surrender their arms and join a border guard force under the Burma Army’s control, and the conflict escalated.
The Burma Army is attacking civilians, who are not party to the war. I met a woman whose husband had been shot dead as he stood in his paddy field, and another woman whose husband’s arms and legs were chopped off before he was shot. I met a 12 year-old boy whose mother was killed as she tried to pack up her house. “My grandfather fought in the Second World War, and he said even the Japanese were not as cruel as the Burma Army,” one Kachin man told me. “I am very disappointed with all this torture and killing. I want the whole world to know about this inhumane behaviour.”
Yet there are causes for cautious optimism. That the regime is even engaging with Aung San Suu Kyi, releasing prominent political prisoners and talking peace with the ethnic nationalities is a sign that years of international pressure may have had some effect. The Generals have seen what happened to Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Gadaffi, and have decided they do not want to suffer the same fate. Their calculation is that a gradual transition, guaranteeing their security, is preferable than a violent popular uprising.
And they are fortunate that the mood of many of their opponents is gracious. Recently released dissidents from the 88 Generation Student Movement, who have spent years in prison, told me in Rangoon that while there would be a need for justice and accountability, it must be for the purposes of truth and reconciliation rather than revenge. “We can forgive – but we must not forget,” said one.
Even the ethnic people, who have suffered so much, show a remarkable lack of bitterness. “I hope we can be brothers and sisters and love each other,” said a Kachin woman who, while pregnant, had hid for two entire days without food or water under sleeping bags as bullets flew over her and Burma Army soldiers sought her. She had overheard soldiers saying “If you see someone, just kill them”.
National reconciliation in Burma is not an impossibility, but it requires more than fine words and changes in mood. Burma’s president, Thein Sein, deserves recognition for the steps he has taken in the past six months, moving faster and more substantially than anyone expected. But he needs to go even further, release all remaining political prisoners, and secure a genuine peace with the ethnic nationalities. Democracy activists, including those recently released from prison, are now talking about working with reformers in the government. For that to happen, however, the reform process, which Thein Sein promises is “irreversible”, must deepen, addressing fundamental political, institutional and constitutional reform.
Padoh Mahn Sha embodied the spirit of Panglong, the agreement signed by ethnic nationalities with Aung San, Burma’s independence leader and Suu Kyi’s father, on 12 February, 1947. It granted the ethnic nationalities equal rights and autonomy, within a federal Burma, but after Aung San’s assassination it was never implemented. Only when Panglong, at least in spirit if not to the letter, is implemented can the legacy of both Aung San and Mahn Sha, two men assassinated for their belief in freedom, be honoured. Only then can Burma be united, and the country which was once the ‘rice bowl’ of Asia transform from least developed nation status to prosperity once more.
6th February 2012
(Commentary) – Life is full of contrasts, contradictions and surprises, and nowhere is that more true than in Burma today. In the past fortnight, I travelled to meet internally displaced people in Kachin State along the China-Burma border, where I heard some of the worst stories of human rights violations that I have ever heard in almost 15 years of involvement in Burma.
The following week, I travelled to Rangoon, where I found an atmosphere of hope that I have never seen before, and an openness that was extraordinary.
It is 10 months since I was deported from the country, and yet I was able to return, on a valid visa, with no one even batting an eyelid at the airport and not a hint of anyone watching me during the week. I was able to meet people who for years have been out of reach, in prison or house arrest, or who, even during the times they were free, were just so sensitive that a meeting would be bound to attract the authorities’ attention. Yet I walked in and out of the offices of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and 88 Generation Student leaders’ homes without anyone appearing to notice.
It would be too simplistic to say that the fortnight was like a journey from darkness to light, because the crisis in Kachin State is not without hope and the political changes in Burma are just the beginning, with a very long way to go and many challenges ahead. But the contrasts illustrate the situation in Burma today, a country possibly on the brink of unexpected change but with many serious questions still to answer.
In his memoir Hitch 22, Christopher Hitchens quotes John Maynard Keynes’ famous words: “When the facts change, then my opinion changes: and you sir?” I am no Keynesian, and I do not believe Burma has yet changed enough to merit a total 360 degree shift in policy, but I left Burma with more hope than I have ever had for the country. The facts have not yet changed, but they are changing – and as a result, so is my analysis. The phrase on most lips is “cautious optimism,” and that sums up my views perfectly, with equal emphasis on both words. There is good reason to be optimistic now – but there are also plenty of reasons still to be cautious.
Why be optimistic? The change is largely atmospheric, but changing the atmosphere is an important first step. Allowing a foreigner who was deported less than a year before, and other foreigners who have been blacklisted for years, and exiled Burmese journalists with decades of opposition to the regime, to visit the country may be clever public relations, but it is nonetheless different from the past. In shops and street-stalls, T-shirts, calendars, posters, booklets and DVDs with pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi are on sale, and at the traffic lights young men tout copies of the movie, “The Lady.” A year ago such activities would have landed a person in jail.
From the atmospheric to the substantial, there are also significant reasons for hope. The process began last July, and within just six months Aung San Suu Kyi had met President Thein Sein, re-registered the NLD, and agreed to contest parliamentary by-elections in April. It is highly likely that two months from now, she and other NLD candidates will be elected members of Parliament. The international community has repeatedly told Thein Sein that for sanctions to be lifted, he needs to release all political prisoners, ensure the by-elections are free and fair, stop attacks on ethnic civilians, announce a nationwide cease-fire, and develop a dialogue process with Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities. To his credit, he has undertaken a good number, though not yet all, of these steps. The release of large numbers of political prisoners, including prominent political activists such as Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and other leaders of the 88 Generation Students, Khun Htun Oo, Zarganar and Su Su Nway, is significant and must be welcomed. A dialogue with Suu Kyi is underway, and the regime knows it is in its interests to ensure the by-elections will be fair. Even on the issue of a cease-fire with ethnic armed groups, significant progress has been made, although serious human rights violations continue and the conflict in Kachin State remains unresolved. It must be acknowledged, though, that even on the ethnic question, so crucial to the country’s future, there is some movement.
Almost everyone I met in Rangoon emphasised the changes taking place, and stressed how important it is to recognise this and encourage President Thein Sein and the reformers in the government. Within just six months, the focus has moved from bringing the generals to justice for the crimes against humanity they have committed, to encouraging and working with the reformers. That has implications for international policy.
It has long been my view that sanctions should be targeted, and should be imposed or lifted proportionately, in response to events on the ground. It is very clear now that Thein Sein has indeed taken some of the steps we have been urging, some sanctions should be lifted. It is vital that the United States, the European Union, Canada and Australia send a clear message: we will be true to our word and we will recognize progress. That has already started, with the US decision to send an ambassador and upgrade diplomatic relations, and with the EU suspending the visa ban on the president and other senior figures. I welcome these steps.
Yet just as it is important to be true to our word, and to recognise the reforms so far, it is equally important to maintain pressure for more. To lift all sanctions in one go would not just be premature, it would be strategically stupid and tactically tactless. Removing all the cards from the table in one go is never a wise move. Everyone I met agrees some sanctions should be lifted, but they all emphasised that it must be done step-by-step, in proportionate response to developments. Until there is a significant improvement in respect for human rights, institutional and legislative change to secure the reforms, and a genuine peace process, some sanctions should remain in place.
Visa bans seem to be the most obvious measures to relax. If we are serious about engaging with Thein Sein and his government, we should invite them to Europe and the United States. Exposing them to open, liberal democracies would surely be a good thing. Increasing contact at all levels is part of encouraging the process of reform. I just hope that too much exposure to the mind-numbing non-entities and mind-boggling red tape in the Brussels bureaucracy and the insomnia-curing proceedings of the European Parliament will not put them off democratisation.
Just as visa bans should go, targeted sanctions on key sectors such as oil and gas, mining and timber, and asset freezes, should stay – for now. Until there is truly irreversible change, it would be wrong to pour money into the generals’ coffers. Any forthcoming foreign investment should be directed at sectors that benefit the people and the economy as a whole.
As part of the “cautious optimism” equation, I have set out the reasons for optimism. Why caution?
First, as one experienced foreign observer told me, the process is still “fragile.” Much rests on the shoulders of two individuals: Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, as it did with FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. If something happened to one of them, would the process continue? Are there enough reformers in the government to forge ahead in Thein Sein’s absence? Are there people in the democracy movement who command enough trust and respect to work with the government? Are there hardliners within the regime waiting to manoeuvre against Thein Sein? Is there a risk of an internal coup, bringing the “Burmese Spring” to an end? As one Burmese journalist told me last week, for the first time in 50 years Burma the people are praying for the president to survive, not to die. Thein Sein is known to have a heart condition. “We are all praying for his pacemaker to keep working,” I was told.
Second, although there is substance, such as the release of political prisoners, much of the change is atmospheric. There is still no institutional, constitutional or legislative change. Laws such as the State Protection Law 1975, which allows detention without charge or trial, the Unlawful Associations Act, banning contact with groups deemed to be ‘illegal’, the Emergency Provision Act, used to silence dissent, and the Electronic Transactions Law, used to stop the distribution of information the regime deems to be detrimental to its security, remain in place, and until these are repealed or amended, and the rule of law developed, political prisoners who have recently been released could be jailed again tomorrow.
Third, what will the NLD be able to do in Parliament? One sceptic believes Suu Kyi is falling into a trap, and will be exactly where the government wants her: within the system, unable to do much, and severed from her party and the people. A more optimistic view is that the NLD MPs would work with reform-minded MPs in other parties, including the majority Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), to amend the constitution, drive forward institutional change and pursue a political solution for the ethnic nationalities. It remains to be seen who is proven right.
Finally, and most importantly, the situation in the ethnic states remains grave. During my week in Kachin State, across the border from China, I heard horrific stories of torture, rape, forced labour, attacks on villages, the destruction of houses, looting of churches and killing of civilians. I interviewed over 20 people who had fled their villages, and about 70 per cent of them had stories involving killings. They were civilians, not Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers. They were farmers shot dead in their paddy field, or a mother shot dead in her home, witnessed by her 12 year-old son. I met a pastor who was repeatedly and savagely beaten and tortured for six hours. I met a man who had been shot and survived – he showed me the bullet and the wound.
The KIA has itself been accused of abuses, and such allegations should not be ignored. They should be discussed and investigated. But in terms of sheer scale and severity, the Burma Army’s violations are far more widespread and systematic, and as long as these continue, any optimism we have for Burma must inevitably be tempered by caution and deep concern.
I was with the leaders of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) at the time when talks were taking place with the government in Ruili, China. I was deeply impressed by their commitment to seeking a genuine peace, making several points abundantly clear: they are for the Union of Burma, not secession (despite their name); they want to talk and they want peace; but they do not wish to go back to the cease-fire they had for 17 years, which was simply an absence of war rather than a real peace. They want a political solution that will ensure a meaningful peace. They submitted detailed proposals to the government for a political process to accompany a ceasefire – a political process that must involve all Burma’s ethnic nationalities.
The ethnic question will only be resolved when Burma’s government, and the democracy movement, agree with the ethnic nationalities on a political structure that guarantees them a degree of autonomy, recognises their ethnic identity, upholds equal rights and does away with Burman superiority and racial prejudice. For too long, ‘federalism’ – the desire of the ethnic nationalities – has been misunderstood and misrepresented as an idea that would lead to the fragmentation of the country. Yet the opposite is the case – federalism, as the examples of the United States and Germany show, is a structure that strengthens a country. Unity in diversity should be the principle for Burma. A national convention, in which the government, the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities participate, should be held to establish Burma as a genuine federal democracy. International expertise in conflict-resolution, inter-ethnic identity and relations, and federal constitutions should be brought in to contribute advice and expertise to all sides. It is far less complex than some would have us think, and if this is done, Burma has a chance of a genuine and lasting peace and an end to more than 60 years of civil war.
Many will question the regime’s motives. Why the change, why now, and why so quickly? It is hard to believe the senior members of the regime, including Thein Sein, have had a road to Damascus experience and woken up one morning realizing that the past 50 years have been all wrong, and democracy is their heartfelt belief. Even if Thein Sein is genuine about reform, his motives are likely to be mixed. He wants sanctions lifted, he wants the Asean chairmanship, he wants international legitimacy, and he recognizes that the status quo is unsustainable. It is highly likely that the former strongman, Senior-General Than Shwe, has approved the process because his priority is to protect himself and his family, and he would prefer a gradual change in which his livelihood and wealth is secure, to a popular uprising as in the Arab Spring. He and Thein Sein saw what happened to Gaddafi and Mubarak, realized that their own days were numbered, and concluded that a slow transition was the only option.
Cynics will point to the fact that Thein Sein has been part of the system all these years, and that he has blood on his hands. No doubt – but it was ever thus. In any transition process, except where a popular uprising leads directly to a dictator’s downfall, reformers come from within the system and, by definition, they have mixed motives and bloody records. South Africa’s FW de Klerk, the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev and Indonesia’s B.J. Habibie were hardly closet democrats all their lives, waiting for the moment when they could reach the top and unleash reform. They were complicit with their regimes’ crimes, but they recognized that, for their own survival, things had to change. In the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appointed reform-minded ministers in a cynical public relations exercise to appease growing international criticism. In the event, the reform-minded ministers proved to be more reformist than Gayoom intended, and the process led to free and fair elections which the opposition leader, Mohamed Nasheed, won. In 2006, I visited Nasheed when he was under house arrest; two years later, he was elected President. Could something similar occur in Burma? I would not discount it.
Saw Tamla Baw, president of the Karen National Union (KNU), said recently that the peace process still involves “thousands” more steps. He is absolutely right. There is still a very long way to go. But for the first time in more than 20 years, Burma has a chance of change. And as the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
– Ben Rogers is the author of “Than Shwe – Unmasking Burma’s Tyrant.” He works for Christian Solidarity Worldwide
23rd October 2011
Anne, an 87 year old Lady who was born in Burma is supporting 2 orphans. Their parents died of Malaria last year and they are now making good progress at a lovely orphanage. Anne became a Girl Guide when she was young and she and some of her “Guider’ friends have raised £2000 to pay for the brother and sister to stay at the orphanage for years to come. Thank you Anne!!!
11th October 2011
We gave £40,426 in gifts to help needy children in Burma in our last Financial Year. Thank you to all our donors and supporters who made this possible and to all the people in Burma who managed the projects that we supported!
30th September 2011
We have had an update from a boy whose parents sold their water buffalo to pay for their son’s treatment, otherwise his life would have been at great risk. We sent money to buy them a new female water buffalo. They have now walked 5 miles to market and bought the new buffalo with the money we sent. When they got the money they said “This is a miracle that has changed our lives!!”
26th September 2011
A big thank you to all the generous people who have already donated on behalf of Sara & Tim’s Silver Wedding. The party on Saturday was hugely enjoyed by everyone who attended.
23rd September 2011
Sara & Tim Yorke have asked their friends not to give them presents for their Silver Wedding Party this weekend. Instead they have asked people to donate to the BCF appeal to help get children into school. http://www.justgiving.com/Burma-Childrens-Fund
30th August 2011
We have had confirmation today that 4 courses have started which we have funded. There courses are for young people leaving school to teach them skills to earn a living. The courses are 3-4 months duration. There are two courses for boys on how to repair and service motor bikes and two courses for girls on dressmaking.
28th August 2011
The team who have been cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats have completed their journey successfully. Many congratulations to Andrew et al. More news shortly about their trip.
25th August 2011
John Hook is running the Chippenham Half Marathon on Sun 11 Sep in aid of the Burma Children’s Fun. We are delighted to welcome him as a supporter. He has taken part in some of our other events but this is his first individual fund raising event. Please wish him every success with his run and get your friends to sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/hookster
24th August 2011
We’ve had an update on the carpentry training project at an orphanage that BCF supports. They have bought more tools and a number of the older boys have started learning woodwork skills. The orphanage leaders are getting advice on bamboo weaving and bamboo fence work so the kids have training in building their own homes in the future. Thanks to donors who make it possible for us to support this work.
13th August 2011
Just had a visitor from Burma staying and talking about traveling from his home town and taking 2 days by boat plus a day on foot to visit another village. Makes life in UK feel easy! We can help poor children in this village to get into primary school. £10 pays their registration fee and then they get up to 7 years schooling! Text EJNT80 £10 to 70070
31st July 2011
We heard this week of a boy who was sick with water on his lungs. He had to travel many miles to hospital for treatment otherwise his life would have been at great risk. To pay for his treatment his parents sold their water buffalo that worked the paddy fields and produced calves. Now they have no income. We found that a new female water buffalo would cost $800 so we are sending the money so they can buy a new one.
28th July 2011
The boys – Andrew, Sam and Oli – are cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats in August because they think it seems like a fun idea, and to raise money for humanitarian assistance in Burma. On their visit to Burma last year, they saw the desperate need for health and education and want to help via our charity. See their Just Giving Page www.justgiving.com/Elizabeth-Hill-Smith
22nd July 2011
Yesterday we held our Annual Golf Day to raise funds for the BCF. We want to thank the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce for supporting us by helping promote the event and with the organisation. Thanks also to all the sponsors who gave prizes and the people who played. The money raised will be used to help improve the lives of poor children in Burma.
21st July 2011
On 21 July the BCF is holding a Charity Golf Day in partnership with the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to raise funds for our work in Burma. The event will be held near Basingstoke and we invite anyone interested in playing to contact us via Facebook or our e-mail email@example.com
20th July 2011
We would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who made last night’s Fundraiser for the BCF so successful. Jane, Sara & Rob for all the planning and Maurice & Irene for cooking the fantastic food for so many people. Our thanks to all the helpers and everyone who attended and supported the BCF so generously. All the proceeds will be used to change the lives of many children in Burma. Colin van Orton – Chairman
19th July 2011
The Burma Children’s Fund has just told the Principal of a school in Burma that we will donate $4,000 to sponsor teacher’s salaries this year. Their reply said “My heart is so pleased. These teachers are each teaching more than hundred students everyday in very poor conditions. Their salaries were cut in half because of the lack of funding. Now we can pay them and they can teach the children. Thank you.
1st July 2011
We heard about JUST TEXTING yesterday. We are trying to get 500 children into school next June. It costs £10 to register them and then their tuition is free!! Imagine transforming a child’s chances for £10! You can help. JustTextGiving by Vodafone let’s you fundraise for BCF. To help support this great cause, sponsor us by texting EJNT80 £1 to 70070. Thank you! PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK!!!
08th June 2011
Will you transform a child’s future by paying £10 for them to start school?
The school year in Burma starts on 1 June but many children in Burma never go to school. They can’t pay the registration fee. Nor can they buy a simple uniform plus an exercise book and a biro. A child can never get into school without paying for these items which on average cost £10.
Income in poor families is about 65 pence a day and £10 is completely impossible for them to find. Your donation can change a child’s life by paying to get them into school.
In 2010 and again 2011 the Burma Children’s Fund paid for the entry fees, the uniform, books and biros for hundreds of children.
Next year, on 1 June 2012 we want to pay for another 500 children to start school and get a chance of a better future.
Will you please help us to help them and give £10? …… Thank You
03rd June 2011
Chris wrote “With invaluable BCF support to her family, Thiri Aung has achieved 6 Distinctions in her Matriculation results – near the top, Nationwide. Thiri, from English House Education Centre in Pyin Oo Lwin, plans to continue her studies in Foreign Languages and Education, and to become a teacher. We are sure she will have a wonderful and influential future. Thanks BCF!’
BCF replied “Congratulations to Thiri and the staff at EH in Pyin Oo Lwin on this wonderful success. BCF supporters paid her fees, she passed the exams that will change her life and when she is a teacher she will change the lives of the next generation. That’s a VIRTUOUS CIRCLE!!”
02nd June 2011
Last night we went to a new exhibition of Htein Lin’s work. He has had prints made of some of his earlier works so they are available to a wider audience. It is on at the North Wall Gallery in Summertown Oxford. Do go if you can. He designed our logo.
25th May 2011
BCF built a carpentry room for orphans to learn woodworking skills at an orphanage. We bought these tools already and thanks to Terry we shall buy some more. Terry in UK has just given away his carpentry tools and in return BCF will get a gift to buy more tools. Thanks Terry!
12th May 2011
CThe funds we sent helped rebuild damaged buildings. We paid for medicines and supported health workers who cared for the cyclone victims. Sadly we can’t post the photos yet.
06th May 2011
Cyclone Giri was a powerful category 5 cyclone that hit Western Burma on October 22, 2010. Winds speed = 125 knots / 230 km / 140 mph ( a tidal surge of 10 ft ). The most affected area was Myebon township in Rakkhine state. Buildings (90%) have either been blown or washed away; Fishing boats have been sunk; Paddy fields have been inundated with sea water. Pictures and news of our support have just arrived.
05th May 2011
We want to thank the friends and family of John Humble who have donated to the BCF, in memory of John. He was a dear friend and a great supporter of the fund who gave us much wise advice. We shall all miss him but we will use the donations given in his memory to help very needy children in Burma
30th April 2011
On Thursday evening we were interviewed live on Hope FM (broadcasting from Bournemouth). We talked about how the BCF was founded, the type of projects we are supporting at the moment and how to help by fundraising. Did anyone hear the programme?
19th April 2011
Orphanage in N.Burma.
Our Trustee Reports. This orphanage has grown since my last visit a year ago. Not only are there more children but new buildings and new enterprises as well.
When I arrived the boys were playing cane-ball outside and very obviously happy and having fun.This is such a happy place, so different from many others around the country. The knitting project (funded by BCF 2 years ago) is going well with a number of older girls being trained on the machines each year and the sweaters selling well locally and further afield. I saw the new building, part-funded by BCF last year. This is almost completed and will house a sewing room, computer room,library and a carpentry training workshop. Again,we have supported this development with donations of sewing machines and carpentry tools so that teenagers will leave the orphanage with useful skills and the means of earning a living.
The orphanage has a growing herd of pigs, a source of good meat and also biogas. At present this provides gas for cooking but thanks to a generous BCF donor a generator is being installed. This will enable the system to produce enough electricity for the children’s study in the evenings.
20th March 2011
The Monastery School near Mandalay.Our Trustee reports:What a joy it was to visit the Monastery School and what a transformation in less than a year! I was greeted by rows of lively happy children in their simple classroom in the grounds of the Monastery. The classroom walls were decorated with the children’s colourful art-work. As this was a special occasion lessons were cancelled and the children greeted me with lots of singing including a fun “Animal Song” complete with headdresses, actions and sounds.
I was amazed at the standard of their English and Maths tests after less than one academic year in school. A number scored over 90% and some even 100%. The best boy and girl received prizes so the headmistress hopes to arrange scholarships for them to go to secondary school in due course.
Following the prize-giving everyone enjoyed a good meal as they do every afternoon before lessons. BCF continues to support the school which is already transforming lives. Plans for next year include starting a library and planning a school outing for children who have never travelled outside their small village.
25th February 2011
BCF recently paid for the construction of a Pre-school in a central region in Burma. The local parishioners also contributed their time, skills and money to cover about one third of the total costs. There are now two teachers employed who are nurturing, helping and teaching the 25 girls and boys aged 3 to 5 at the Pre-school.
13th February 2011
A grant to a Mandalay school [see album on our Facebook page] paid for:- 120meals each for 50 children; 180 teaching hours for each child; 2 school uniforms & 2 pairs of footwear for each child; medical & dental costs for 30 children & their siblings. We also paid the costs of registration & textbooks for 30 children to start at Government primary schools. These are things that improve the lives of children in Burma & give them hope.
02nd February 2011
We have just received a mail from the mother of 2 children that BCF is supporting in their studies.
She says “Thank you very much for BCF’s kind help. My great desire for my kids is for them to become well educated. Nothing is more precious than education. Because of your support my dream has come true”. These children… have done very well in their examinations – all donations help children like these.
26th January 2011
We have just heard how a grant has been used, that we made to help children in a poor area in West Burma. Half was used to build and set up a nursery School and the balance to pay the salaries of wardens at 5 hostels where children from remote villages stay to attend secondary school. Our thanks to everyone who has helped make these projects possible – people who donated the funds & people on the ground in Burma.
17th January 2011
Just had an update on forthcoming Hare Lip operations. Three are being done this week, including a 3mth old. 2 have double clefts and both had dental work [removal of front teeth done and now ready for surgery]. Life changing for these little ones as the stigma is removed when the lip is normalised. Thank you James who funds this programme!
01st January 2011
New Year’s day 2011!! A day for new resolutions. Please resolve this year to do something to support the children in need in Burma — we DO improve their lives when we work together to support them. Chairman BCF.
December 2010 Newsletter
Training School Leavers
We have funded several 3 month training courses for older children. Girls learn sewing or knitting; boys learn to repair motor cycles. Selected boys and girls attended IT training. All these courses cost £70 per pupil
The BCF has paid for educational materials, books and desks. We have also built flush toilets at a number of Monastery Schools.
23rd December 2010
A very Happy Christmas and New Year from all at BCF to all our supporters.
15th December 2010
If you want to sign up to receive our newsletters click the ‘Latest News’ Tab and fill in the request form. All thanks to RAWNET!!
14th December 2010
We have just written our Christmas Newsletter highlighting some of the things that BCF has done this year and mentioning some people who have helped us. If you follow the link to our website, then on the homepage you will find a click through that takes you to the content of the Newsletter. Enjoy!!
05th December 2010
Many charities spend a big percentage of their income on their operational and staff costs. As a matter of principle we keep ours to an absolute minimum. We have no offices or paid staff, all our work is done by our unpaid Trustees who fund all their own travel [and accommodation] to and in Burma when they visit.
03rd December 2010
We have just been drafting our annual report. In it we can’t thank everyone individually who has supported us but here are some of the people have made a difference to our work. First of all the team at RAWNET who operate our website – at no charge they have designed it, they host it and they help us at short notice when we urgently need changes – and all because they care about the children in Burma. THANKS GUYS!!
24th November 2010
We have just heard some wonderful news for the BCF!! A group of friends have decided to help raise funds in UK to support BCF’s work in improving the lives of children in Burma. Please join us in welcoming them and wishing them every success in their new venture. Many, many thanks to them all. Colin Chairman BCF
The Government only authorize preschools to operate of the head teacher attends the UNICEF approved one month course. We have paid for 15 head teachers to train and qualify. For each school we have bought the special equipment needed for the new method of teaching.
Two wonderful people-Robin & Audrey got married and instead of presents asked for donations to pay to build a new preschool in Burma.
A group of friends in Surrey gave an Asian Banquet on beautiful summer evening & gave the proceeds to the BCF.
Tim Yorke cycled a hounded miles in a day round Lake Michigan USA and other people have run, swum or given coffee mornings to raise funds.
Our 7 Year old granddaughter baked fairy Cakes and sold them at her gate.
Cards and cakes are sold and every fund raising event improves a child’s life in Burma.
Your tremendous support enables the BCF to make a difference in to children in Burma.