It is early morning Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and I will preach in one of the Chin refugee congregations in a matter of hours. My hope is to bring them words of encouragement and hope. Beth will bring a testimony as a part of the service.
Yesterday we focused our time with the Chin Refugee Committee and the Chin Christian Fellowship. We focused on some of the critical needs in the life of the Chin community here. We spent some time focusing on how to help address some of the medical and medical history needs of the Chin. We identified a critical need for training for the community health workers. We also spent time discovering how the pastoral care element of the team will function. The needs in both the medical and emotional support systems is profound. As a part of our discovery process two of the leaders took us to visit a Chin family dealing with AIDS. The community answer had been isolation. There is little understanding among the community on how AIDS is transmitted and this has generated a real sense of fear related to this family. This is particularly difficult for the three children. We will be talking through how to provide some educational and "play" support for these kids.
The CRC also operates a small center for women and children. The children depicted in the picture are the five children of a single mom and two other children who have lost their parents for who she now provides primary care. The issue of single parent household's/families (almost exclusively women serving as sole parent) and unaccompanied minors is a growing issue for the community. It raises great concerns related to long term placement in the US or other host countries. The CRC has very limited resources to help in these situations. This is one of the places we envision involvement.
One of the families living is the small center is the parents of one of the Chin families living in OKC. There are some health barriers slowing their placement in the US. It was our great joy to get to know them and to share some time with them. They are a warm and engaging couple and I look forward to the time they can join their family and FBC OKC in the US.
We learned a great deal more about the refugee placement process. We also learned where some of the key problem issues with placement arise. There are organizations involved who are critical to the process that were previously unknown to me. Connecting with them should help us be more effective in our ministry with the Chin. We are also scheduling a meeting for Beth and another member of the short term team to meet with a key UN link during their February trip.
Any doubts about the value of this quick exploration/planning trip have long sense evaporated. I do not think that the team planned for February nor future short term teams would have nearly as productive without this trip and these critical meetings. It appears that these days in KL has put us in a position to work side-by-side local Chin leadership to meet their expressed needs and to have maximum positive impact among the Chin refugees here. We are glad we have come.
Time to get ready for church and another day of discovery.
Grace and Peace, Tom and Beth