Don't forget the situation in Burma.
Teresa and her husband, Rich, have been at my church for about four years now. Like several of our members, their faith in Christ and desire to live out the gospel not only humbles me but helps shape the depth and direction of our church. Teresa started a blog titled Jewels in the Ashes and actively serves on the board of directors at World Aid based here in Seattle. World Aid focuses much of their energy and work serving and empowering Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Burma and refugees on the Thai/Burma border. If you're looking for someone trustworthy to donate money toward the relief efforts in Burma, Teresa and World Aid will get those funds where they need to get to.
I got this incredible "insider's look" from Teresa, who received this from friends who are working within Burma. Do yourself a favor and take three minutes to read this:
As Westerners we want Western solutions for Burma. We want planes to fly in supplies to save people who we know could be saved. We live in a world where we can replace bad hearts with good hearts, clone organs, and do bone marrow transplants. We think putting men on the moon is old school. Flying in a planeload of life-saving supplies should be child's play.
In Burma making a phone call is difficult. Only seven percent of the country's 52 million people have electricity. For Burma's excessively paranoid generals we might just as well ask them if we can fly in a planeload of anthrax as one of aid. To them, this act might save lives but it would poison the culture, and while it may be a culture of fear and defeat, they unfortunately see it as their culture to defend.
To make a difference in Burma we have no choice but to deal with what is, not what we as Westerners think should be. I detest the current regime. I can't for the life of me comprehend their cruelty. This is the side of humanity that makes me want to throw up my hands in utter despair and quit, but I can't because quitting is what allows governments like this to continue.
I am so proud right now to be working with a group of people who haven't quit Burma. A group that spans the globe, a group that is organizing in the face of utter despair and effectively getting help to cyclone victims in ways that could get many of them arrested if they were ever found out.
What is in Burma is that international aid is failing; goods sent in to help disaster victims are being co-opted by the government. The military, once stuck with the problem of how to feed and clothe their 400,000 soldiers, now has enough rice stores to feed them for years to come. Likewise with medicine.
However, what is also happening in Burma is that internal aid is working. Granted that it lacks the fairy-tale effect of a white horse riding in, complete with knight in shining armor, or wizards with magic wands that can turn the horrible truth into a happy ending, but in a very real way, in a very empowering way, Burma's people are saving themselves -- despite the generals.
Supported by those who refuse to quit, a quiet revolt is taking place. A strong grassroots movement is evolving to bring goods to those in need. It travels many routes and is crossing continents and cultures -- some routes are above ground -- small convoys of concerned citizens with used clothing and humble donations, businessmen with enough clout and connections to get permission to transport small quantities of relief