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."
Typically, Mara women and girls are responsible for water collection and most spend around 2 hours each day collecting water. When Mission East visited, most household in Lailenpi said they could get only 10 gallons (2 jericans) of water each day for the whole household to share. While they looked forward to having more water in the rainy season, they still had to get through the driest months (April/May) when the springs dry up and people are forced to search for water from small streams in the forest.