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Burma Donation

Below is a letter from one of the missionary priests in Burma, where we recently sent a donation.

Greetings to all the members and supporters of Granaghan Outreach. I hope you all keep well.

I teach in a seminary in the formation of young men preparing to be priests. I also have other projects, especially in education and livelihood projects for the poor. The mili*ary regime has destroyed the education, economic and health systems. It spends 3% of its budget on health and education combined. Most of the budget is spent on the army and armaments., some nuclear arms. It is the second poorest country and poverty and hopelessness is everywhere. Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS are very prevalent. According to UNICEF, out of the 1.3 million children born every year, more than 92,500 will die before their first birthday and another 138,000 before reaching their fifth birthday. Diarrhea, TB and malaria are the most common causes of death. Medicine is not available in villages and too expensive where it is available. According to Amnesty International there are more than 70,000 child soldiers. These children are kidnapped and forced to become sol*iers. Most children cannot go to school due to lack of schools and where there are schools the parents can’t afford to pay school fees to the teachers who are mostly not trained. At present I am sending almost 200 children back to school on a ‘Back to School’ project. If the children have any hope for the future it is through a basic education. The powers that be do not want the people to be educated as they will then think for themselves. This project has been in operation for three years. We also provide the 200 children with a lunch every day, the only food they get.

Two years ago I started a Higher Education Centre for young women and men, aged 18 – 22 who are extremely poor but bright. It is heartbreaking to have to tell so many that they can not be accepted because of lack of space/buildings and finance. We would need to build another classroom and dormitory to accommodate the increasing number of students but it isn’t easy. We can only take 33 each year and presently we have 66. It is a three year residential programme as they all come from very remote villages. Next year we will have three levels and a total of 99. We train them to be teachers for the future so that they can go back to their villages, set up schools and teach.It is expensive as I have to provide food for them in addition to all the other costs. But it is worth it as education will be the key to change here.
Because people die from hunger and preventable diseases I help as many as possible to buy medicine and food.

Families can not get work and so can’t put food on the table. Last year I started livelihood projects and now we have 75 families involved. We give them approximately £100 to £200 each and help them to start a little business, like buying a wee plot of land and growing vegetables, rearing a few pigs, providing women with sewing machines, making fans, selling snacks, repairing bicycles etc. This has been very successful and the 75 families can now provide food for their children. Their lives have changed and hopefully we will be able to expand if we have the money in the future.

The achievements are: we have kept people alive, we have given them the means to provide a livelihood and food for their children and given so many children and adult youth a chance for education which will change their futures for the best and promote social, economic and poli*ical change.

This is brief but I hope it gives you some idea of how your most generous donation is being spent.

Wishing you God’s blessing on your work and thank you and all the group for your care and concern for the poorest of the poor and the voiceless here and in different parts of the world.