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."
"I never have a chance to share my opinions and feelings with the authorities. But now I have a chance to share with you. I do not have words to express what I am feeling. I want to express how happy we are that you have come to us. Please remember the least and the lost of our community." - A Mara elder speaking to the Mission East visitors to their community.