Refugees without a camp

Burmese soldiers advance. They kill our animals, take our rice.
From our schools they take the learning and the light.
They burn our villages and steal our minds.
We hear the soldiers’ voices, and we are filled with fear and hate.
And we must run, run, run, until our legs break,
Refugees without a home, refugees without a camp.

They dress our Buddhas in women’s underwear.
We see our people floating bloated in the river,
We have land but cannot farm it, forced labor is our lot.
“Peace, peace. peace,” they say. Burma says we are at peace.
But we are not. We hear gunshots night and day.
And we must run, run, run, until our legs break,
Refugees without a home, refugees without a camp.

Some Shan live in Thailand, work as servants or as slaves,
some live in relocation camps, without money, food, or hope.
Some live in the jungle and hear their dying child’s cries,
mosquitoes on their limbs, and leeches in their eyes.
They dig a shallow grave and place the child inside.
And then they run, run, run, until their legs break.
Refugees without a home, refugees without a camp.

By Sai Leng Hsim

Shan-Tai prayer month 2011, day 28

The poem above is an original Shan poem by a student at a school for Shan students in Thailand. It was translated into English by Bernice Koehler Johnson, one of his teachers.

If you have been praying with me this month you may also be feeling like me a desire to ‘do more than just pray’. My first comment about this is that praying is the most important thing we can do. Remaining at home in comfort and praying diligently and with love for Jesus and for the Shan people is not a copout unless God has clearly told you to be doing something else.

However, as I pray I find that God has been opening my eyes, heart and mind to notice other ways in which I might also be able to help the Shan people in a small way. Many people doing small things intentionally can make a massive difference. I will be continuing to pray, and with my prayers will also try to do my small things for the Shan.

Run for Relief

One way of helping might be to Run for Relief. As the website states, “for a million villagers in Burma, running is not an option”. I am not at all fit, I can barely run for 5 minutes but after praying these last 27 days and reading the poem above, it seems callous of me to not at least try. Though this will have to be something of a longer term plan!

Talk about the Shan people

Another way to help the Shan people is to talk about their situation to others. The military regime has intentionally restricted the flow of information out of Burma, we can counter this as many people willingly communicate what they have tried to suppress – the truth.

Pray for

  • The diligence and love necessary to continue praying for the Shan.
  • Insights of ways to help the Shan in addition to praying.
  • Encouragement for those who have been already labouring long to help the Shan people, whether Christians or not.
  • For knowledge of the true situation in Burma to permeate the world.

External Resources:

Download the Shan Prayer Guide:

30 Days of Prayer for the Shan