Good Morning - it has been a whirlwind of events over the past 45 days while in Asia. The mission has been a real "eye-opener" and we are anticipating moving forward for a long term presence as part of the Life on Point Team in the region. This also means establishing The Life on Point Group as a registered Not-For-Profit operating throughout Southeast Asia. These are exciting times however they are tempered with a foreboding sense of reality in that the reason we are here in Burma is quite simply...to Free the Oppressed!
I have to state that physically it was one of the most demanding things I have ever done in my life. The terrain does not lend itself well to someone just walking in off the street...you need time in this area to develop the skills necessary to not only navigate but just to survive. I have lost roughly 15 pounds in this short period of time and now require a smaller belt just to hold my pants up! As we measure distance between our home and Wal-Mart, the Karen measure distance in days...as in how many days’ walk to the next village. My initial infiltration was 19 hours walk across some of the most arduous and difficult terrain you can imagine…my guide stated that “it is a two day walk…but we will do it in one”
When you meet the Karen you realize that although somewhat shorter then you...these men can move through the jungle with the grace and speed of a cat...barely visible...and yet...always there. Several hours into the movement through the jungle and you get a real appreciation of how they have adapted to this harsh environment. My time to move with them came during the monsoon season and the weather did not disappoint...cascades of rain fell for the full 19 hours of the infiltration...suffice to say that I was soaked to the bone upon reaching Operational Camp 1 in Karen State.
As many of you know the primary reason for this mission was to support ongoing humanitarian efforts for the Karen Peoples of Burma. They are embroiled in one of the longest running civil wars ever recorded...and the atrocities continue. After numerous years in the military in some of the most difficult and varied assignments offered I really thought I had seen it all…but on this mission…I was appalled at what I saw...and over such a short period of time. Burnt and scorched villages, land mine victims and displaced civilians through out the jungle punctuated my stay. What you will wake up and take for granted today here in the US is nothing but a perverse version of science fiction to these people. For the Karen…sole possessions are carried on their back or in a small bag under your arm…and the expectation of a meal or clean drinking water comes only after risking ones life time and time again.
Burma will undergo an electoral process on November 7th, 2010 but those in the know realize that this is an election only in name for the ruling junta has already made plans for the continuance of its campaign of terror. It's a shame that in the 21st century we allow this to take place...yet here we are.
I arrived home on the 22nd of October and am already waiting for the word to go back...the work is that compelling. We are waiting on the results of the election and a series of other events before deciding what to do next…however I fully anticipate being back either right before or immediately after the holiday season.
We will keep you updated on developments as the team continues to report from Burma as well as what has happened over the past 45 days while in country...till then...the mission continues.