There has been so much change in Myanmar, does it still need our prayers. Does it still need those who will care for the poor, share life and meaning and faith?
The new opportunities within Myanmar have brought many challenges and tensions too. ‘Before we all used to be poor and there was not much difference between us but now there is a huge gap and it is getting bigger all the time,’ explained one person. Also, whilst there are many changes in urban areas, this has not led to much change in rural areas where the majority of people live. The past four years have seen an upsurge in ethnic and religiously motivated violence in many parts of the country and current estimates are that almost 650,000 people have been internally displaced as a result. Disasters in the country appear to be on the rise and as of December, around 50,000 people were estimated to have been displaced due to flooding (UN OCHA, Dec 2013).
In the mountainous Northern Shan state, in one community 50 out of 52 households were affected by drug addiction. It is much easier to grow opium in these areas than any other crops due to the mountainous terrain, lack of access to markets and lack of health services which mean that smoking opium is popular to relieve pain. ‘We pray every Sunday at 5.30 for our village and our husbands who are addicted to opium but so far God has not answered our prayers’ recounts Daw Na Bu, a Women’s Self Help Group member in that village.
So while this is a country of much hope and opportunity, there are also immense needs and challenges. We definitely need to keep praying.