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An Easter Prayer PDF Print E-mail

27 March 2011: Third Sunday of Lent

In early February I spent some time teaching refugees - the 'Karen' people - on the Thai/Burma border, associated with a Melbourne-based group who have been involved in providing tertiary education for refugees over a number of years.  My assistant/translator was a young Karen woman who told me a little of her story during our time together.  The Karen people are an ethnic group who occupy the hill country in the eastern part of Burma.  They are mainly farmers.  For over 30 years they have been persecuted by the Burmese government to the extent that some 250,000 of them now occupy refugee camps on the border.  Three or four times a year the Burmese army sweep through their villages, mainly looting and seeking food/livestock but every 18 months or so there is a full scale attack on various villages - plunder, burning whole villages to the ground, rape, and sometimes murder; the villagers then return home, starting over from scratch.

So I was little disappointed to hear a few weeks later that the Queensland Premier saw fit to 'apologise for the delay in providing compensation' for the victims of the recent floods.  Now many have suffered terribly in recent years from fires and floods across our country; emergency assistance for food and shelter is quickly made available and Australians are very generous to such people via individual contributions, charitable groups, government grants and handouts, and many also have insurance cover to enable them to start over again.  My friends in Burma have no insurance, government assistance or compensation.  They just put their heads down, work hard and start life over again - often every few years.  So why should a Premier apologise for a short delay of a few weeks or even months in providing very generous compensation?  It appears to me that there is a certain section of our community who are 'whingers', seemingly to rely on others to solve their problems; this is not the Australia of my youth or my forbears, who relied on their own hard work and self reliance and where support was directed to the really needy.

So this Lent/Easter, say a prayer for all victims of disasters and who have suffered tragedies this last year.  But say a special prayer for my Karen friends, and others, who face disasters on an ongoing basis, and where there is no delay in providing compensation - because there isn't any.

Graeme Hood
Chairperson - Parish Leadership Team