Due to recent military threats, members of several of our partner villages were forced to flee into the forest for one week at the end of November. These threats have taken place for the past six months, and the villagers have been moving to the forest on and off depending on the severity of the military threat day to day. They are all ready to flee at a moment’s notice, afraid of being robbed and killed, so they’ve taken all their valuables and clothes with them.
In Aung Si Thar village, 37 houses were burned down, including the homes of three village development team members, who lost all of their belongings. Four houses lost their pigs and pig sheds: these farmers are the beneficiaries of Shanta’s Pig Farm Project. Fortunately, the Community Bank’s important records were safe with the people. As they have lost all assets, all 37 families are building simple huts and living in the forest, while other families have returned to the village.
Because it is surrounded by pro-military villages (villages loyal to the repressive military junta running the country), Ta Yaw Kaing village is trapped between the People’s Defense Force and the military regime, and all transportation into or out of that village has been shut down. As a result, the village lacks basic foods, medicine, soap, and income because they are unable to trade.
The military regime burned down 13 villages near Pauk during the first week of December and is limiting purchases of certain foods to prevent them from being given to the People’s Defense Force. Using cell phones to call the villages is also difficult and unsafe, so Shanta’s team in Pauk has to wait for the VDTs to call the Shanta office as opposed to the team’s phone calls scheduled at least twice a month to share general updates and work on project management.
All other development agencies have halted operations in the Pauk region. We are amazed at the resiliency of our partner villages in Pauk. Despite their impossible circumstances, they are committed to continuing their partnerships with Shanta. We represent hope to these villagers because of our steadfast commitment to our partnerships.