CS300 : Your Support Means The World To Them

2008-03-31

Hmong : What happened inside  

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Last week when we entered the refugee camp, the emotions were still high and people were still visibly fearful.

When they came out, many came forward to ask us to pray for them because they were really scared to be sent back to Laos. It was an emotional sight when you see adults and children sobbing silently with all the hurts just surfacing.

I remembered during one of the first session, I told the crowd that if they think no one remembers them, they are wrong. Because we at RADION stayed for months at the mountains for months just waiting for the opportunity to enter the camp to bring these relief and medical supplies to them. As I spoke, tears welled in the eyes of these refugees.

I told them that they are remembered and there are people out there who still cares. More importantly my God still remembers them and has not forgotten them for even a second.

We saw tears rolling down their cheeks.

2008-03-27

Hmong : FIRSTAID  

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We have completed the first phase of Project FIRSTAID with each zone receiving first aid training as well as being equipped with a first aid kit.

The refugees took the training so seriously that they got all their sub-leaders to attend the training together with them. Here are the pictures.

2008-03-26

Hmong : We are in !  

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Today was an absolute miracle despite the frequent changes.

Just some days back the military called to invite us back to the refugee camp and yesterday they called again. Telling us that they have not received news from Phitsanulok office, as such they are not certain if we can enter the refugee camp.

Today, we drove to the refugee camp as scheduled and spoke to the military. After almost 1 hour of waiting, we were allowed into the camp to conduct our humanitarian relief programs.

The campus crusade team performed a skit about broken lives and in one of our outreaches, people started sobbing. We prayed for these people and this is what one lady said

"I have never had a happy life. Since I was born, I was in the jungle. We had nothing, even filling our stomachs every day was difficult. No one helped us. When we sought refuge in Thailand and out of the jungles but yet something was still lacking in my life. We still did not have enough food, and we struggle through each day with an unfilled stomach. No one loves me. Can Radion please help us ?"

The whole team broke into tears as we hugged these tearful people and prayed for them. A total of 60 odd people came up to be prayed for.


2008-03-23

Shophouse : Good Friday Outreach  

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This Good Friday weekend has been most exciting.
Just yesterday, we organised a BBQ session for the poor villagers to come to our shophouse to eat. More than that, we've also prepared skits, dramas and games.


Its simply mind-blowing. 12 people came forward to ask for prayers and among which is a lady who was infected with HIV.

Today, we also put together a special 2 day excursion for children as part of the village outreach program as well as the street kids program. In all 70 children turned up for a day of fun and games at the nature reserve and waterfall.

2008-03-20

Sometimes one touch means so much  

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Today we visited some 17 families to bring them food and tell them that someone still loves them. These families are not just any families, these are destitute and the poorest among the villagers. Some of these families are so poor that they do not even have money to keep their stomachs filled.

Aside from food distribution, we sat beside these broken people and just provided a listening ear to them. Even as we listen on, they told of stories of being abandoned by the community and some by their very own families.


Holding their wrinkled hands


2008-03-19

CCC Team  

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Yesterday the Campus Crusade team arrived safely at Phetchabun and today we had a full day of cultural training before tomorrow's outreach to the destitute families in the village

2008-03-16

BKK Tomorrow  

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Tomorrow, I'll be heading down to Bangkok to attend a couple of meetings with some foreign friends regarding the Hmong Lao and future development plan.

After which, I'll be spending some time to research on the prevalence of child-prostitution for Y-Gen.

Lets see how we'll go :)

2008-03-15

Shophouse : Fishing At The River  

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Today we brought the village kids out to a nearby river to catch fish. Slight more than half of the children you see here comes from a problematic family. Alcoholic father, abandoned kids, father in prison, mother ran away.... etc etc

When I brought the kids out, they asked me "Pii (Brother) Eugene, why do you like bringing us kids out ?" I thought for a moment and told them.... "Because I'm still a kid. Just like you and me, but in a bigger case"

You can believe how excited these kids are when the first boy caught a fish....crabs came into the tub as well !

I saw this little boy who sat aside and did not play with the rest. So I sat next to this boy and just talked to him. He started to confide in me that his father died and mother remarried. Since than no one cared for him, the teachers in the school did not bother about him. So he left school.

Thinking through and told him to come to Shophouse when you have problems and talk to us about it and we'll provide a listening ear. If he feels no one cares for him and he has nothing to eat, come find us, eat together with us. We'll care for him. :)

His eyes just welled with tears.

Staffing Problems  

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Yesterday, I apprehended one of our part-time staff for not doing a good job taking care of the stores and allowing rats to damage some 9 bags of milk.

We told him that he slacks at his work again, we'll deduct his salary.

Here is his picture.


Sorry man :) Just in a great mood after the military approved permits :) !

Permits Re-Approved !!!  

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Just this morning, we received a call from the colonel in charge.

He has informed us that with effect from 26 Mar, we will be able to continue with our relief and outreach work in the refugee camp.

So this morning, its a mad rush in Shophouse! and we're re-preparing the permit papers and stuff.

And, for my dear campus crusade friends who have been updating themselves with the blog and praying to help refugee camp. Lets go in ! :)

2008-03-14

Hmong : Rats & Friends  

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Just went over to our village store to check on our relief products. As expected some 9 bags of milk were damaged by rats. The remaining items are still in tact.

In our store, we still have cartons of dried noodles which have been donated. As the expiry date is close, we'll be distributing these items to destitute villagers over the next few weeks.

2008-03-12

How far do I want to go ?  

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How far do I want to go ? Thats the question that has been bogging my mind.

This is especially painful as my staff and I wait to regain the permits for entry into the refugee camp. Everyday seems long and challenges awaits on every bend.

Somehow not being able to go up to the refugee camp seems to take a toll on me. I guess I did not realise how much I loved this Hmong Lao people until now.

People have been asking us to give up waiting and just move on. But somehow deep inside me, there is a small hope ... a hope for a miracle to happen.

But till then, I rather not waste time, but to channel the effort and resources to help the children in this village.

2008-03-09

Shophouse : Street Kids Outreach  

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Today we gathered both the street kids as well as children around the block to bring them out just to river to play.

By the time we reached the river, it was way past lunch time. But not only did the kids not grumble, but they just sat there quietly waiting for the food. When the food arrived, they just started to stuff their mouths with rice and the chicken, its a sight which is both sad as well as happy. These kids probably never had a treat like that.

The niece of my staff sat with them on our way back, she was telling me how moved she was, especially when the children told them that nobody has ever cared enough to even bring them out.

So here are the pictures !

Shophouse : Picture Update  

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Our satellite dish sticking out like a sore thumb :)

The little internet cafe & teaching area

2008-03-08

Shophouse : Reaching Street Children  

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Just this week, our shophouse in Phetchabun started a street kids outreach programme where we bring village children in to care and teach them to differentiate the rights from the wrongs.

Just in this first starting week, we have 4 children (9-12 years) coming into the program. All these children have stained past and have been given up by the villagers and relatives alike. But we take them in to give them a second chance.

I guess thats why RADION was born - To reach souls and give them a second chance.

Y-Gen : Meeting Updates  

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Just a short update on the progress of Y-Gen.

I've meet up with the collection team to understand more about how they function. The collection team in essence will be doing the actual rescue operations and for us, we'll be in charge of rehabilitating these children in a safe environment.

Simultaneously, we are also in discussions with another Singapore-based NGO to discuss on the building of this centre.

This is one of the places which I'm looking at.

Hmong : News Update  

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2008-03-07

Something meaningful  

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GEORGE CARLIN (His wife recently died...)


George Carlin is comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write something so
very eloquent...and so very appropriate.

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but
shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more,
but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and
smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more
problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too
little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too
much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to
life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but
have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer
space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.


We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom,
but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but
accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more
computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but
we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small
character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of
two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are
days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night
stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to
quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and
nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to
you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to
just hit delete...

2008-03-05

Ground Report : Refugees Fear Coming Out  

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Today I've just received news that the refugees are so gripped by fear that most of them are not coming out of their homes. Not even to the morning markets or schools for the fear that the military will deport them.

2008-03-04

Y-Gen Ground Survey  

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Tomorrow I'll be using the break to go up to Chiang Rai to do a ground survey for Project Y-Gen.

Project Y-Gen is our child rehabilitation home for children who have been sexually abused.

Our initial ground feel was to situate the home in Chiang Rai in view of accessibility to resources as well as proximity to target areas.

Our initial estimates for building this home is SGD705,000, this will go into building shelter for some 200 children as well as supporting infrastructure.

I'll give an update after I complete the meeting and get back from Chiang Rai.

2008-03-02

Addition Of New Staff  

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Just a lighter update after all the deportation frenzy.

RADION Shophouse! is up. For those who are not updated. SHOPHOUSE! is a social enterprise project in Thailand targeted at giving destitute and abused womenfolk with basic work-skill/life-skill training.

The story of my staff (Nickname : "Neet")
Neet comes from a very poor family and at a young tender age, she was sold to man who slept around and abused her.

Neet tried to run back home to her mother, but only to find her mother a drug addict.
The mother subsequently died of overdose and without anyone to take care of her, she engaged in another marriage hoping that the new man will provide for her, instead he turned out to be an alcoholic and beats her. She lives in fear with her 2 children daily.

Last week we took her in and told her that we believe that God loves her and we love her.

Now she is happily undergoing work-skill training to become a full fledged staff.

That is what my work here is about. Its about giving people a second chance.

You think you had it bad ? Think again.

Ground Sources  

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Our ground sources also informed us that during the deportation. The 11 who previously signed the voluntary deportation paper refused to be deported. The tension came when they had to be pulled away into the trucks. It is also reported that the camp is in an emotional state under fears of further deportation.

All foreigners (teachers, ourselves) have been kept out of the camp till further notice. The military commander in charge has mentioned that permits would likly be released after this weekend.

So after we do secure the permits, we'll rush the medical kits. Hopefully that gives the refugees some security if they do go into running

Extracts From International Herald Tribune  

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BANGKOK, Thailand: The U.N. refugee agency is concerned about Thailand's recent repatriation of a small group of ethnic Hmong to Laos because of reports that they were sent back involuntarily, a spokeswoman for the organization said Friday.

The 12 Hmong were taken Wednesday from a refugee camp in Thailand's Phetchabun province to be sent back to Laos on Thursday. The camp is estimated to hold nearly 8,000 Hmong from Laos, most of whom say they fear for their safety in their communist homeland.

According to the Thai military's Supreme Command's Border Affairs Office, which manages the camp, the 12 volunteered to go back to Laos as a goodwill gesture prior to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's official visit to the country Friday.

However, one of the 12 was a woman who had five children left behind at the camp, according to the humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders, which works at the camp. Her separation from her children suggested that her return was not voluntary, the group said.

According to a California-based Hmong advocacy group, the Fact Finding Commission, and a Western diplomat who asked not to be named because she is not authorized to speak to the media, the woman was en route to Laos when she was sent back to the camp to be reunited with her children.

The Fact Finding Commission, which has been a reliable source of information in the past, said the 11 others who were sent back were jailed Friday at Paksan in Laos' Bolikhamxai province.

The report could not be independently confirmed, and Lao officials could not be reached for comment.

Kitty McKinsey, Asia spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees, said her agency relied on assurances from the Thai Foreign Ministry that the people who were sent back had volunteered to go.

"We are concerned because we are receiving a number of reports which called into question whether everyone volunteered to go," she told The Associated Press.

UNHCR, she said, has no objection to repatriations if they are strictly voluntary and conducted in dignity and according to international standards.

The Hmong say they fear political persecution in Laos. Many Hmong fought on the side of a pro-U.S. Laotian government in the 1960s and 1970s before the communist takeover of their country in 1975.

More than 300,000 Laotians, mostly Hmong, fled to Thailand after the takeover. Most were resettled in third countries, particularly the United States, although several thousand were voluntarily repatriated to Laos.

Thailand asserts that the Hmong are not legitimate refugees and have violated Thai law by entering the country illegally.