Mission East visited Burma for the first time in February 2013. This remarkable journey allowed us to enter into a beautiful community - the Mara community - an ethnic minority group who lives high in the mountains of Burma, near the border with India. The Mara people have been cut off from much of the world throughout the military junta period. Lacking telecommunications, road infrastructure, market access, healthcare services, and higher education, one Mara elder referred to his people as a 'deserted, neglected, marginalized community'. Today, this part of southern Chin State is beginning to open up. Government reforms since 2011, a peace agreement to end active conflict in the state, and less restrictions to foreigners (like Mission East's delegation) are taken as signs by the community that change is coming. In the following photos, join us as we learn about the Mara people, their land, their struggles and their hopes. In the words of one elder we met, "In those times, we had no one to tell. We used to suffer alone. There was no one to listen. We laughed alone and cried alone. Now you have come to laugh with us and to cry with us."
This mother is a member of a Self Help Group in Lailenpi. With her baby in her arms, she shared with Mission East her perspective on the situation for women in this region.
“I used to think that all the problems I had were only in my family or with me. Now I know that others have the same problems. It’s a comfort for me.” – Member of a Lailenpi women’s Self-Help Group