Myanmar, formerly Burma, known for her vibrancy in her name as the Golden land for her pristine Buddhist tradition and plentiful natural resources, was once the richest nation in South East Asia.
Culturally she has been a colorful country with eight major tribes and 135 sub tribes.
But, today her reputation is shattered and has become a ‘burning Myanmar’ in the eyes of the world!
Why do I say today’s Myanmar is a ‘burning Myanmar’? All because, we encounter more today – the ethnic armies defending territory in conflict with Tatmadaw, the national army of Myanmar.
The net result has been an extensive displacement of persons: internally, the Kachin IDPs (Internally Displaced People) and externally, the stateless Rohinya Refugees. We also encounter a non-recognizing factor by Myanmar for her own Karenni returnees!
Still further, we see and experience a massive unsafe migration abroad, as well as internally; a widespread production and use of drugs within; human trafficking of our young girls; an exploitation of the country’s rich natural resources; neglected social services, poor health care providers and placing less importance on social conscience based creative and critical thinking in educational centers and overstressing of ‘memorizing method’ approach.
Seeing this current stinking situation, as members of the Myanmar Jesuit Mission, we are called in a greater manner to engage together with the Catholic Church and others in Myanmar nation-building, based on Gospel values – by committing to spiritual, educational, socio-pastoral ministries and to form the youth of Myanmar nation and in particular the formation of our young native Jesuits.
While generally such ministries are ongoing, in particular I would like to share about how we have brought the joy of Christmas in the midst of the excluded at this time of COVID-19 Christmas 2020 in upper Myanmar’s Myitkyina, a capital town of the internal war affected Kachin State since 2011.