Category Archives: The Initiatives

WIN Facilitates UN-Focused Human Rights Training Programme


End of October 2010, WIN facilitated the training of Karen community health and relief workers for human rights documentation for the United Nations (UN). During the course, 10 Karen community workers leaned about the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children’s Rights in Conflict.

Every time we talk to members of the Karen community about getting their message out to the world, they say they want to tell the UN, and rightly so. The United Nations has the power to enforce international cuts in communication, trade, military support and diplomatic relations to any government they feel is a threat to peace. Training programmes like these, therefore, aim help local community run groups to bridge connections with the UN.  Now, when abuses are suffered in their communities, they have the capacity to report these crimes on an international level.

Solid UN-approved evidence of Burma’s war crimes are tantamount to gaining international support for the country’s victims of war, both political and funding for relief and development. However, the international body often struggles to gain information from areas of war due to restrictions put in place the ruling military regime. Therefore, these community workers have been very enthusiastic to begin recording cases of abuse, which they come across regularly, and then report directly.

This also comes at a crucial time politically, as western governments across the globe are calling for the UN to implement a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Abuses in Burma. It is crucial that the UN is receiving up-to-date reports on the horrific crimes committed by the Burma Army from all angles so that these calls can be acted upon.

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Filed under The Initiatives, The Karen, Training, WIN

The Harrowing Tale of a Refugee Mother Named Rahima, Part 3

The story continues for Rahima, an Arakanese refugee mother in the border town of Mae Sot, Thailand…read part one and part two

In Burma, soldiers are given total power and often stationed far from home, creating what has been dubbed a “culture of impunity.” Without a strong community to support them, young girls living without homes are among the most vulnerable to abuse. Bad health is also rife on the streets of Burma. While less than 2% of government spending goes to health-care, around 40% is spent strengthening the military, further entrenching the regime’s stranglehold on the nation. Never in her life had Rahima seen a medic or doctor of any kind before she came to Thailand, despite being surrounded by illness.

“We had so many diseases, mainly diarrhea and stomach pains because we had no food. Sometimes we went collecting herbal leaves and boiled them down and drank the broth. That sometimes worked, but most people died. It’s all a blur now, but I’m sure my whole family are dead. My father had a brain stroke, and then my mother died of cancer. Me and my siblings were uncontrollable. We had no food so we came and went and often lost track of each other. One by one, my 8 brothers and sisters just stopped coming back.”

For almost an hour, without tears, Rahima tells me of her childhood, describing the railway station as “worse than anything [she’d] ever heard or learned about hell.” Meanwhile giving her utmost attention to her own two children, both close by her side. Throughout the interview the boy is so sick he has soiled the floor twice, unduly embarrassing his mother.

“My child has had diarrhea for over 20 days now but I have no money. The Thai police wait outside the free clinic [Mae Tao] and arrest foreigners every day. I tell them that we live in Burma and have just come for the clinic but they don’t care, they arrest us and take us to DKBA soldiers on the border.”

The final part of this series will be published in the coming days.

JJ Kim, Advocacy Manager

Worldwide Impact Now

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Filed under Internal Displacement, Military, Refugees, Reports, Support Programs, The Initiatives, The People

Pic of the Day: Mobile Karen Medic

Young Karen health care workers work on teams of backpack medics and mobile clinics to serve villagers in remote areas.

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Filed under Internal Displacement, Medical, Photography, Pic of the Day, The Initiatives, The Karen

Internal Displacement Report: February 3 – 7, 2010

The first week of February saw further attacks on civilians in Karen State, Eastern Burma by the country’s ruling dictators. While over 2,000 men, women and children lost their homes, a local health clinic was burned to the ground and 11 schools abandoned due to force.

In order to destabilize communities and weaken support for local freedom fighters, the army often forcibly relocates villages, sending in mortars then heading in on foot to destroy what is left and kill any remaining villagers.

Between February 3-7, at least 46 houses and one clinic were burned to the ground in Toe Hta, while 38 homes were destroyed in Ka Di Mu Der, two areas of Kler Lwe Htoo (Nyaunglebin) District in northern Karen State. These attacks were perpetrated by Light Infantry Batallion (LIB) #362 and LIB #356 of the Burma Army.

Speaking to WIN in the days after, Saw Steve of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) said that “the 2,000 people have fled deep into the jungle where they remain as the Burma Army are still active in the area. They are not close to any source of water and are sleeping in the wild.”

WIN recently received other reports that three Burma Army battalions have been moved into the region and are in combat with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). It is unlikely that the region will be safe for return within the week. A spokesperson for the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), which administers the destroyed clinic, spoke to WIN of his deep concern for the displaced people’s lack of food and other materials.

“Firstly they need food, that is the number one thing and we encourage any support anyone can offer us or CIDKP in this regard. After that they need medicine, materials for shelter and then once they return they will need to start from scratch collecting utensils and pots and pans and other household things.”

The KDHW operate a mobile clinic service, which is adaptable to the constant need to flee settlements and start over.

“The mobile clinic concept means that if the villagers are forced to move location because of attack, our health workers will always move with them. In the same way, if upon return they decide that it is not safe to stay – usually due to landmine cultivation – the health workers move with them to the new site.”

These reports came shortly after a local trader was murdered on the Salween River that borders Thailand and Burma. Saw Law Ray Htoo was shot by Burma Army soldiers while traveling downstream by boat on February 5.

WIN has also received reports that the 2,000 or more IDPs displaced in similar attacks between January 17 and 19, remain in hiding in the jungle, many also in Kler Lwe Hto District.

Kim, on the border
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Filed under Internal Displacement, Medical, Photography, Refugees, Reports, The Initiatives, The People

Pic of the Day: Karen Freedom Fighters

Karen villagers are defended only by a small force of a few thousand irregulars, who face  400,000 regulars from the Burmese Army. Karen soldiers have lost both family members and  their community in their long resistance against Burmese oppression.  They are in a “last stand” situation as Burmese armed forces try to surround them and finish them off in Northern Karen State.

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Filed under Military, Photography, Pic of the Day, Support Programs, The Karen, The People

Where Once Was Only Darkness…

In a small corner of a border refugee camp sits the Karen Handicap Welfare Association’s (KHWA) “Care Villa”. The on-going war in Eastern Burma produces many casualties, and currently 19 ethnic Karen receive care here, healing the injuries resulting from landmines placed by the Burmese Army in their ethnic minority villages and farmlands. We see innocent villagers, unfairly punished for trying to feed their families. Former soldiers wounded while fighting for their freedom against an oppressive military junta still in power.  And even a small boy of 15, blinded while collecting wood for a fire.

Che Lee (34), a rice farmer, lost his sight and both hands to a landmine in 1997. He lives a simple life that starts early in the morning with prayer. It is his brothers and sisters at the center who make it possible for him to carry out his day. From washing himself and changing his clothes to eating a meal, Che Lee relies on the care given by the center’s assistants and by those, who like him, have had their lives shattered by landmine injuries.

Che Lee spends his days listening to music, singing in the Care Villa choir, and visiting friends throughout the camp with the help of the children leading the way. While Che Lee speaks of his sadness for losing his sight, he finds strength through the members of the center who bring him joy.

“We live together and we eat together, like a family – we are a family. For 5 years I lived at my friends’ house and life was very lonely, but since I have moved to the Care Villa,  my family has grown and we all work together.”

Delivering a “CARE Package” to an much-deserving resident of the “Villa”

WIN Program Coordinator Matt, on the border

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Filed under Landmine Victims, Medical, Photography, The Initiatives

Some Perspective From Worldwide Impact Now (WIN)

Attitude matters for the Karen youth who are fighting for the survival of their once prosperous culture that is over 2000 years old.

WIN’s objective is to free oppressed peoples worldwide through human development, empowerment and enablement initiatives. We have adopted a “Burma First” imperative. Thanks for your interest.

We invest in what we call “rainmakers”… servant leaders of character respected by their people. We feel this is the key to taking care of oppressed people “in the shadows”. We work with these grassroots leaders as catalysts in building strong communities, security, stability and prosperity from the ground up. We rely on them all now in crisis and they are performing as expected with courage. We also support other non-profit organizations in initiative where they clearly are innovating and making critical differences. Our aim is for these “rainmakers” to also succeed.

By providing training and financial contribution to these “agents of change”, we hope to create collaboration and cooperation among all of them. This is one way of accomplishing results greater than any single organization or person is capable of. Our role here is one of facilitation and coordination within a like-minded “community of purpose”.

The critical factor now in the Irrawaddy River region is in hastening aid to refugees at greatest risk in remote areas. We are succeeeding at this now by relying on old friendships established over the past four years. This is leadership worth investing in.

We appreciate your care for the diverse peoples of Burma and hope to be able to tell their compelling story in new ways in coming months, as we work together with many friends from locations across Southeast Asia.

Tim Heinemann, founder

Worldwide Impact Now

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Filed under Photography, The Initiatives, The Lifestyles, The People