In Myanmar (Burma), people have a more difficult life than before because of COVID-19, with hunger as the primary concern for Myanmar's many poor people and daily labourers, who have been unable to work due to COVID-19 restrictions (see this link for details on this crisis and examples of Food Not Bombs Myanmar's work). A lot of people are extremely worried and are facing very difficult situations. To add to this, there are ongoing civil wars in Rakhine State, Chin State, and Kachin State; the last of which is the world’s longest civil war. A lot of innocent people are dying because of those wars, even during COVID-19 time. All of the above is why we are doing more Food Not Bombs actions during these days. We are working with the Antiwar movement and supporting internally displaced people (IDPs) in those areas, as well as supporting a fledgling Food Not Bombs youth group in the capital of Rakhine State, Sittwe, who seek to provide support in their area and contribute to mending relationships between different ethnic groups. Finally, a lot of factories have been closed due to COVID-19 and the workers have faced challenges, including non-payment of previous orders (and salaries) and union busting. So, we also support the workers.
Our Covid-19 response (i.e. where does the $$$ go?):
- Handing out food (rice, oil, eggs) to various groups of people suffering during this time, including trishaw drivers, sex workers, street vendors, and other people unable to earn their daily wages during the lockdown, as well as the homeless people that Food Not Bombs has supported since 2013. The food packs we give cost about 5 pounds each (9,000 MMK) and can feed one person for over one week. We also digitally transfer cash in some cases.
- Supporting elderly people – we guarantee that at least 10% of our funding will go to supporting elderly people in our communities with food and money; we are currently setting up systems to transfer weekly or monthly financial support to these people using mobile banking.
- Supporting workers and those engaged in labour strikes, through providing food and basic things they need, as well as moral support.
- Working to support young people in Sittwe, Rakhine, who want to start their own chapter of Food Not Bombs in Rakhine State. This group would be able to more directly reach minority communities in Rakhine, as well as work towards increased peace between groups in a particularly conflict-affected area of the country.
Case study: (for more, please see our Facebook page here)
We visited to grandma San Yee's house yesterday (the 20th of May 2020). We supported her with Rice, instant noodles, some fruits and some cash. She is 88 years old right now. But, still strong and brave. We hangout and listen the story about her and got a lot of inspiration. She is an amazing, strong and powerful women in Myanmar history. Also, even we met one time last week ago, feel like really grandma and grandsons when we meet each other again today. She was so happy and grateful.
Who is Dar San Yee?
Her Name is grandma San Yee. A lot of Myanmar people know her as "Dar San Yee". She is a hero. She attacked and arrested the man responsible for the Rangoon bombing of 9 October 1983. She is an amazing, strong and powerful women in Myanmar history. But, people forget about her.
Right now, she is begging money to survive in the street. She is in a very difficultly situation.
The Rebel Riot is a punk band from Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), formed in 2007 after the onset of the Saffron Revolution. Since then, they have captured the world’s attention with their outspoken music, including speaking out against hate and violence against Myanmar’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority (see the Al-Jazeera story for more on this). In 2013, they founded the Myanmar chapter of the international Food Not Bombs movement and put their ideals into action by feeding Burma's homeless every week. Apart from being a public health emergency, the Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in huge economic losses, especially for people already living on the knife edge of starvation poverty; daily labourers, factory workers, street vendors, and internally displaced people to name a few. Food Not Bombs has been supporting these groups with food donations through this difficult time, using up what little savings they had, and relying on friends and supporters in Yangon to continue. Getting money into Myanmar is tricky, due to a closed banking system, so we have started this international fundraiser to enable our international supporters to provide direct support to those who need it most.