Funds raised so far: 81%
The civil war in Myanmar since the military coup in February 2021 has hit Karen State particularly hard. Many families have had to leave their villages, the scene of conflict. Their children are seeking refuge in the towns, where safety is assured and they can continue their studies, as schools are open.
In Pallaw, Father John has been running a home for around fifty children for several years. As a result of the crisis, almost 150 children are now being taken in and attending school nearby.
The project aims to build an additional building to accommodate the new children separated from their families.
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- Provide a safe place to live for children from displaced families in the region.
- Ensure their safety and protect them from the violence of the fighting.
- Enable primary and secondary school children to continue their studies.
- Reduce inequalities in access to education in communities affected by the conflict.
- Provide moral support to parents who can return to their villages, where possible, to look after their property.
Context and needs
During the 2020s and 2021s, the population of Myanmar suffered from the Covid-19 health crisis, followed by the military coup. These two crises had enormous repercussions. Six months after the coup, tension turned into active violence in most regions. Violence has increased within the State Administration Council (CAE), the People’s Defence Forces (FDP) and the ethnic armies.
There are more and more displaced people in the Pallaw region. The junta is practising the 4-cuts strategy (food, finance, communication and transport) in certain areas of active violence. It has wiped out around twenty villages in the Pallaw region, destroying property and plantations. Victims are facing arbitrary killings, torture, extortion, land grabs, various forms of travel restrictions, demands for money, etc.
Following the serious violence in September 2021, dozens of communities were forced to flee. The most common places of temporary accommodation are the jungle, the vicinity of villages and schools, monasteries and churches. International and local aid organisations are involved in providing basic food supplies, but very few organisations are involved in protecting people.
Often, after two months in the camp, the adults return to their villages to plant crops, leaving their children behind. They worry about their safety. So far, 50 children from 40 different families have stayed in the camp. They all go to the government school.
In the summer of 2022, there was heavy fighting around Kadeh, the town where the schoolchildren in the programme were staying. Father John decided to bring all the children back to Pallaw. The schoolchildren are therefore joining the secondary school pupils and other displaced children. Father John is trying to meet the needs of all the children.
The direct beneficiaries of this project are over 150 children from 13 different locations, all in war zones. Their parents returned to their villages, and the children remained under Father John’s supervision.
As there was no room for them, he dispersed them in several areas: in the church compound, in two neighbouring houses, and the home of the sisters of Saint François-Xavier.
Father John Saw Pet Pet is 40 years old. He is responsible for the Children of the Mekong programme and the two homes in Pallaw. He is a Karen and comes from the Tenasserim region. He is well aware of the difficulties of education in this region and is personally affected by the consequences of the fighting there.
Before being ordained a priest, Father John was a schoolteacher. To him, the development of his country depends on the education of children. Although he was fulfilled by his job as a teacher, he gradually felt limited in the amount of help he could give to young Karen people. As a teacher, he could only help one village, but he wanted to do more.