Fun run feeds hope for Burma
Dave Ellem finished high school and went to Thailand, however, unlike most backpacking teenagers of his age, he didn't go for the nightclubs or the cocktails, he went to visit a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border.
Dave was 19 and the trip had a profound impact on him.
“I met a guy about my age there whose dream it was to go to university, but that just wasn't an option,” Dave remembered. “He asked me to come back to my own country and tell the stories of what their government is doing to them, so I came back and joined Partners.”
Partners is short for Partners Relief and Development, an Alstonville-based organisation which provides relief to Burmese people displaced by the military junta that has had an iron grip on the country since 1962.
Next Saturday, November 7, Partners is holding a Run for Relief in Ballina to raise funds for people living in refugee camps.
“The conditions in the camp are certainly not nice, but to be honest, they are better in contrast to the conditions people living in the jungles of Burma have to face. Those people who can't get to a refugee camp are dealing with land mines, lack of food and terrible disease. At least at the refugee camp there is some form of food and shelter, but it's still very confronting,” Dave said. “It's great to raise awareness in Australia and empower people to help, but it can also be disheartening because the problem is so big and no matter how much money you throw at it, it doesn't change the government there. But hopefully one day we will see change, and in the meantime there is so much need - over a million displaced people - so what we do is really important.”
Dave said $50 can keep a family alive for a month with a supply of rice and salt, a cooking pot, lighter, tarp and machete. Partners also support nine medical clinics inside Burma's Karen state, each of which provides basic medical care to around 5000 people a year.
You can help raise money for Partners by joining the Run for Relief, which includes a 2km, 5km and 10km course to choose from, commencing at 3pm at the Missingham Bridge amphitheatre.
There will also be a BBQ, jumping castle, face painting, Fairtrade products on sale and some live music with Luke Vasella and special guests.
“There's going to be some Karen refugees from Burma who will be sharing their traditional music. Music's a big part of their culture and they are incredible musicians,” Dave said.
To register for the event visit runforrelief.org.au or for more information, visit www.partnersworld.org.au or phone 6628 7823.