Meeting the Rohingya
You live in a nice neighborhood in Durham, NC, but you’re legally not allowed to leave the allotment. Police block all the exits. Your life would be at risk to head over to Southpoint or to Tyler’s in Downtown. Forget it. You live in a nice neighborhood in Wooster, OH but your life is at stake to head to Walmart in North town. And you can’t even consider Liberty Street, though your family has been going there for generations.
Take it one step further. You actually don’t live in a house in that neighborhood, but you stay on the front lawn in a makeshift structure. And there is no pool or playground around the corner. And actually, there’s not even enough food for you or worse yet, your babies. There’s no school for your kids and there’s nothing for you to do to pass the time. Your government–they hate you. And the international community? They’ve heard talk of you, but in general, there is no sweeping movement of reform or advocacy to help. And it’s monsoon season.
He has not forgotten these Rohingya Muslims. Even if it seems most everyone else has. His love for them is as intense and burning as it is for you and me and our own babies (writing this as a mom and imagining my children in this situation).
And Partners Relief and Development.
We have committed to showing these people that they are not forgotten. That they are loved and worthy of life, and the tangible needs that come with being alive. Partners, who believes that if our God loves them desperately, then we can show them that by showing up. By being as steadfast and consistent to them as we say He is to us (“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases: Lamentations 3:22). We can’t feed them all or educate them all or solve all of their immense problems or needs.
But we can show up. And do what we can. And we have. (And because of partners like you who help fund these deliveries.) Every month. And since we’ve committed to feeding one particular IDP (internally displaced persons) camp every single month (via food deliveries and through helping them start a community garden where they can grow their own), their residents are noticeably more hopeful, and their children are noticeably more active and visible than those in other IDP camps, who are lying in their homes, lethargic from want of nutrition.
And Ahmed (*name has been changed), our interpreter of 5 years, has just now begun to read the Gospels in the Bible, on his own initiative and curiosity. Maybe because we keep showing up. Maybe because it’s compelling that, despite race, religion, or creed, we are sending a message that “we mean it: they are worth it.” They are loved. And not forgotten. By us. Or by God.
I can’t go on these trips yet. I’m home (in my nice, safe home) with my kids (healthy, well-fed, entertained kids). So I have to content myself with experiencing this through Brenden’s (and our team at Partners) eyes. When Brenden returned from his much-anticipated first trip and shared pictures with me, this is what stirred my heart and mind.
The beginning of June, I was able to to go on a relief trip to Rakine State, western Myanmar to participate in our monthly provision of food stuffs. It was also days after the Cyclone Mora and the resulting damage to the camps.
Nearly three years ago, as we prepared to move to Thailand, this is the role I thought I’d fill at Partners: helping with the relief division. Only now, two full years after living and working here, did I go on my first trip, and it was long-awaited. And moved me as much as I thought it would, even years ago.
Read more about my reflections on this trip on the Partners Blog (and see pictures I took too):
In the next several months, I plan to return to Sittwe with a team from Partners to help conduct our first community development training there, because we know that even despite dire physical circumstances, these people have many gifts and skills to offer their community. We believe it, and want to help empower them to believe it too.