REFUGEE OUTREACH - November 2011
Page 2

Comments from Rick:

We made it to the first camp, Mae La, however things have changed and the Thai government has cracked down significantly, on any outsiders entering the camp. Mi Nge, our contact, had tried to obtain permission for us to enter the camp in advance to no avail. Fortunately, we were able to work things out and meet her and the others across the road from the camp where the Thai government has allowed them to have a vegetable garden. They have also allowed them to construct a couple of bamboo huts there as well as a charcoal making area. Charcoal is what they use to cook with; It's much different than ours though, chunks of wood about the size of a brick.

We had just arrived, pulling off of the main road onto a small road area, and were greeting one another and unloading the pickup when all of a sudden there was about a half dozen Thai Police pulling in on their motor scooters with loaded machine guns wanting to know what we were doing. We had just finished unloading all of the food and I had just started unloading one of the suitcases into small plastic bags and continued to do so while listening to the foreign conversation. Since nothing was being directed toward me, I continued until they left. Mi Nge had one of the refugees who speaks Thai explain to them that we were just delivering food and clothing for the Refugees. She said that they made it very clear that we were not to enter the camp. Apparently they were also looking for people who had been cutting down and stealing bamboo trees.

So after all the excitement, we were able to congregate at one of the huts and take photos for about an hour and a half, before they had to return to the camp. We were able to take about 175 pictures. Our plans were to return in the morning and finish up and leave about noon, return to Mae sot which is about an hour and a half trip by Line Bus and then catch a big bus to Lampang which is about a 5 hour trip. Lampang is where we are staying with Betty's friends. We were scheduled to get back and rest for a day and then on Monday travel to Mae Sariang which is a couple of hours outside of the other camp. As it turned out Betty got sick (a touch of dysentery) and was not able to travel. After prayer and consuming lots of Pepto Bismol, along with a couple of other medicines and a bit of rest, she was feeling better by the afternoon so we made the trip back to Mae La camp area. We were able to completely finish taking all of the photos and got back to Mae Sot about dark, around 7 pm.

We caught a bus at 8 am the next morning returning to Lampang with plans of getting on another bus at 8 am the next day and traveling to Mae Sariang, about a 6 hour trip, and spend a night there before going into Mae Rah Moo camp on the 29th and spending a night in the camp. This is the camp that is about a 2 hour drive in a 4-wheel drive truck off the main road. When I got up at 6:30 in the morning Betty tells me that she is sick again and has not had any sleep. She contacted Honest Roger, the person who got us passes to enter the camp for the next day, and asked him if it would be possible to change it to another day. He said that he could and would contact us upon his returning out of the camp on Wednesday. That just about sums it up for now. Needless to say, please pray for Betty's recovery, and us being able to get into the camp later and our safety as well. Oh yes, I must say that I don't think that my bottom has ever been so sore from riding all of these buses. The line buses have very little cushion, perhaps an inch and the big busses have cushions that become hard after about 30 minutes.