So I have just finished a big week.

I have been hosting a study tour for a group of Australian unionists. As it is my job to inform people about the situation on the Thai Burma border and of course about our projects and project partners!

It has been a big week up here in Thailand for me. Making sure everyone was looked after, that we were getting from place to place and everything was worked out in advance so that their meetings had meaning and purpose. Lots and lots of work.

But it was a bigger week for the study tour participants – they were on a very steep learning curve. And although I am sure it was an enjoyable experience, because… how can you not love these smiles;

of some children at the Mae Tao Clinic;

and these cool old guys at Mae La camp;

and this gorgeous baby at the Shan camp;

But with all the eurphoria about the ‘changes’  in Burma at the moment. It was a lot to learn that aside from the election of Aung San Suu Kyi into Parliament there has been very little change for ordinary Burmese to experience.

In fact there has been for most people;

  • An increase in militarisation in their area.
  • An increase in violence against women and rape in ethnic areas by the Burmese military.
  • forced displacement of people from their villages due to mega-development projects such as dams and oil and gas mines (where the profits of the development go to companies owned by ex-military and the electricity from the projects overseas to China)

The group saw first hand the results of these realities;

the treatment board at the prosthetics department of the Mae Tao Clinic

And the prosthetics for all the people on the board.

There was more to see and it was a big big week. It is important for peope to understand what is going on up here. There are many many people who genuinley need help. And the whole worlds attention seems to be turning away. To be pretenting that the election of Aung San Suu Kyi into a minor role in parliament can overnight undo 60 years of violence and opression.

It cant. There is still so much more to do.