Category Archives: project updates

As the title says: Updates about our projects.

Support Health Care for Burmese in Delhi

In 2010 the Support Burmese Refugees Network in Delhi produced a video with the help of a microgrant received from Burma Center Prague. It focuses on the health care needs of Burmese refugees in Delhi.

Food from the garbage

The video depicts and describes how the Burmese refugees are living in very poor and cramped conditions and many have had to resort to taking rotten food from the market rubbish bins in order to feed themselves. These conditions, combined with the lack of adequate health care services, have helped create a continuing cycle of deteriorating health for them. The main diseases they suffer from are hepatitis, jaundice, cholera, and HIV/AIDS. Despite this they receive very little support from the Indian government or the UNHCR.

“We need more help”

Thankfully for the Burmese there are two health clinics which provide them with access to free health care. One of these is Yamuna, founded by Dr. Tint Swe.

The Yamuna clinic provides essential support in particular to women and children, providing maternity and other services. But the clinic needs more funds in order to have sufficient medicines and equipment. They are only open three days a week despite the growing need of the Burmese community. Dr. Tint Swe’s clinic receives 60 to 90 patients every day they are open. He says: “We need more help from other sympathisers”.

Insufficient medicines

The clinics do not have sufficient medicines and medicine is often prohibitively expensive for the refugees. One woman describes the costs for her father who is suspected to be sick with dengue fever: “We need to spend Rs 3000 to 4000 every week just for buying medicines. I wish and request any organizations and people of goodwill to help us.“
(Rs 3000 to 4000 is in the range of 1,400 Czech crowns).

The free medical clinics are a ‘relief’ to Burmese patients

The health clinics are therefore hugely important for the Burmese refugees. As one patient describes she was “very relieved” to have access to the clinic. “This is the only option for us to meet the doctor and get treatment free of costs and I am very pleased for that.”

How you can help

You can help support the Yamuna clinic by buying a micro-grant share through this website.

You can either watch the video now or read the transcript of the video.

Video transcript:

Mr Plato Vanrung Mang, in-charge of CHRO-Delhi, working for Chin refugees pointed out the situation in relation to UNHCR’s health assistance to Burmese refugees in Delhi.

“Related to the Chin refugee health care program, we are also helping them with service help to the refugees, because the UNHCR have this implementing partner which looks after the health care of Chin refugees in Delhi, but their service is very limited not only that they don’t have any health clinics or centres for the Chin refugees. And in terms of these medications, UNHCR is not providing any assistance to Burmese refugees. And they don’t have any open clinics or health centres for refugees.

So, in these situations, refugees have to approach Government hospital, and when they approach Government hospital the people are very crowded and because of discrimination of Indian authorities, sometimes they did not get service and care from this Government hospital. So at that time they prefer to go to private clinics but as the refugee they don’t have money to go to private clinics so many Chin refugees could not have health service either to private clinics or Government hospital. But the only health clinics and access we can get are community open health programs. We have two systems, one is Yamuna Clinic opened by Doctor Tint Swe, so many of them. Another one is open by the WRWRB led by Burmese woman so, but their medications and their medicines are very limited also so they don’t have enough sufficient medicines.”

Video titles:

Due to poor economic conditions the majority of the Burmese refugees rent rooms which are situated in the remote part of Vikas Puri and Janak Puri of the western part of Delhi. Due to contaminated environments, lack of nutrition and cramped rooms without proper ventilation their health condition is getting deteriorated. Even though UNHCR through its implementing partner like Don Bosco works for self-reliance program, the majority of the population remain at home knitting and stitching to earn for their daily meal.

The Burmese refugees buy vegetables from the weekly market. Though some are able to buy good and fresh vegetables, some still collect waste and leftover vegetables at night after the Indian vendors closed the market. Some refugees even collect vegetable and eatables from the market dustbin which is also one of the main factors for the deterioration of health conditions.

There are two Burmese refugee clinics, i.e Yamuna and WRWAB. Yamuna clinic is run by Dr. Tint Swe, a Burmese MP in exile and the other clinic (WRWAB) is run by a women’s group. Both the clinics work to promote the health condition and give treatment free of cost to Burmese refugees residing in Delhi.

Interview with Dr. Tint Swe (founder of the Yamuna clinic)

“The Yamuna clinic is a free clinic for Burmese community in India. It was opened in August 2002. It is free for all Burmese refugees whether they are recognised by UNHCR or not. We open voluntarily to help the plight of the health status of our Burmese refugees. Because refugees are not provided proper health care by any organisation or any government.

UNHCR trying to help to some extent for the health of Burmese refugees but it is not enough at all. So we opened that one. We trained refugee women to assist my clinic. So I have already trained over 35 Burmese women who can help at the clinic. So far we have been treating the patients as out patients three days a week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday every evening. On the clinic days we are receiving at least 60 to maybe 90 patients every day. Apart from treating the patients as out patients we are also providing maternity care. We take care of the pre-natal women, we take care of delivery of child and we take care of post-delivery cases. But even then we need more help from other sympathisers.

UNHCR also came to our clinic a few years back. They provided some equipment and examination bed but that’s all. They visit my clinic from time to time. They just come and they just go, it’s not enough. So I try to ask UNHCR to provide practical assistance to the clinic. Because my clinic deliver directly to my patients.

Interview with a Burmese woman on the clinic:

“As we cannot afford to get treatment from private clinics we are very relieved when we received medicines and treatment free of costs from this clinic. If we go to other health centres, we will not only spend money but also have to wait for long hours to get the treatment. This is the only option for us to meet the doctor and get treatment free of costs and I am very pleased for that.

Interview with a Burmese patient:

“When I first visited DDU hospital I was told to go to GB hospital. I have to spend at least Rs.500 whenever I visited there. I used to go there around 6 am and stand in the queue. Since the queue is very long I could meet the Doctor only around 1pm. We always missed lunch whenever we visited this hospital. The doctor at GB Pant hospital advised me to go for a blood test and other check ups and when I inquired they said it will cost thirteen thousand Rupees. Since I cannot afford that amount I approached the YMCA and Women’s Centre for assistance but I was informed that it is not possible to support me financially.

Therefore, I requested them if it is possible for me to change the hospital where I can get free treatment since I cannot afford there. Whenever I inquired to the YMCA and Women’s Centre, they told me that my case has been reported to the UNHCR and they are still waiting for the response.

I have not taken medicine for almost a month now. I am facing a difficult life and more worse is that I cannot go for a blood test. My health is unusual these days, though I’m fine in the morning, fever will strike in the evening and my weight has been terribly reduced. My weight is only 38 kgs now though in the past 3 months I used to be 45 kgs and I don’t know what to eat. I haven’t consulted any Doctor and I am still waiting for my blood tests.

Since I am a Hepatitis C patient. I am receiving Rs 2700 per month as Subsistence Allowance (SA) from UNHCR which people think I am fortunate to receive this assistance. But this amount is not enough even for house rent and food. I am informed that my SA will be cut after 3 months and I don’t have any idea what I will do next, should I request UNHCR to continue the SA or not since I have to spend at least Rs500 whenever I visited the hospital. I am very worried about my future.”

Video titles:

The main diseases caused among the Burmese refugees in New Delhi are hepatitis, jaundice, cholera and HIV/AIDS.

This is a funeral ceremony of Mr XXX, who died of AIDS. The funeral ceremony of all the Burmese refugees take place at Burma Community Resource Centre which works for social welfare and networking founded in 1998 by Burmese community in Delhi.

Interview with a family member whose father has been suffering from cancer:

“It is suspected to be dengue. The doctor advised me to do ultra-sound and blood-test by any means. The Doctor even asked to borrow money from someone. I could not borrow money and stayed like that for 3 months. What I came to know was that UNHCR will repay the money as it is very expensive. The SA we are receiving is not enough for buying medicines and moving here and there. Accordingly, doctor could not advise me what to do and the government of India also could not provide those medicines. We need to spend Rs 3000 to 4000 every week just for buying medicines. I wish and request any organizations and people of goodwill to help us.“

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

Aung San Suu Kyi

author: Jackie Fox

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Our new banners promoting responsible travel to Burma

Thanks to the help of Carolina from Juxta Design who donated her time and expertise, we now have professional banners for EcoBurma. The banners look awesome! It was exciting to see these four pieces develop, and I was glad that the cooperation with far-away San Francisco worked so smoothly.

If you own a website and think you can spare some space, please display our banners with the link to I suggest the necessary code below, next to each image.

We also recommend taking a look at Carolina’s portfolio of design.

In the not so distant future, EcoBurma also plans to produce a flat banner.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="responsible travel to Burma/Myanmar" /></a> Responsible travel to Burma
<a href=""><img src="" alt="responsible travel to Burma/Myanmar" /></a>
<a href=""><img src="" alt="responsible travel to Burma/Myanmar" /></a> responsible travel to Burma
<a href=""><img src="" alt="responsible travel to Burma/Myanmar" /></a>


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Support Burmese Grassroots through Microgrants

Finally we are able to launch the 2011 round of our microgrant program. Please check out the projects at

For a grassroots group run by Burmese refugees in Delhi or Mizoram, a few hundred dollars can mean the difference between dreaming of a needed project or launching it. These self-support groups are mostly the only ones who provide essential services to the refugees like health care, legal advisory or vocational training. And our program has proven last year that once started these activities can often continue from own sources, and many generations of refugees will benefit from the skills that were acquired.

During the Burma Center Prague team’s trip to India in July, we selected the best 13 projects of those submitted by Burmese refugee organizations. The projects cover activities in Delhi or in northeastern India, and project ideas came from the Burmese after they successfully attended our project management training.

This year again we have projects covering a wide range of issues, from the provision of healthcare, computer and Internet access, human rights training, and news publishing to running a women’s shelter. The activities will run until the end of December at the latest, which means we have sufficient time to obtain the necessary additional resources.

Please head over to our site at and read through the project descriptions to choose the project you like the most. The minimum contribution is just 500 CZK (approx. €20 / US$29), and the total amount will go directly to the project. Burma Center Prague covers all other costs for running the project. Of course, you are welcome to support more than one project! Payment can be made easily by card or bank transfer.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

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India 2.0

This July, Sabe and I headed back to India to do some work with local Burmese regufee organizations there. During our microgrant pilot program in 2010, during which we gave microgrants to these grassroots organizations to run small projects, we noticed that many of the organizations’ members had few project management skills. So we decided, as part of our capacity-building activity in our India project, to offer free PM training to members of these organizations. Attending the training was also made a precondition to receiving a grant in this year’s microgrant program. The response to our call for applications was great, more than 50 people signed up.
And so we found ourselves sitting in Dubai airport from midnight to 4am, on a layover on our journey from Prague to Delhi. I have to say, the airport was a more happening place in the dead of night than most of Prague at midday. People were shopping, eating, walking around…only a few brave souls tried to sleep in the floor behind/underneath the benches. I had been hoping to catch a few winks but could not resign myself to lying on the floor (unfortunately, Dubai airport has removed its quiet lounge, probably in an effort to get people to shop more). So needless to say we were a bit tired upon arrival in Delhi, but as the training was starting the next day, we had to hit the ground running.
We checked in at our ‘stay home’ with Auntie Avinash and Uncle Chadha, a very hospitable and generous couple with whom we had stayed with last year. Five minutes in the door and we were already eating – aloo prata for breakfast. They would continue to feed us during our entire stay, though this year I stuck with cereal for breakfast in order to keep something of my normal diet. And on the advice of Czech friends, I “opened” and “closed” each day with a shot of Slivovice, to ward off the Delhi belly. And it worked!
We ran around to the local shops in Vikas Puri (West Delhi) to get supplies we needed for the training, and took a look at the room we would be doing the training in. About 45 square metres, 2 doors and no windows, 6 ceiling fans, and an average temperature of about 36 degrees Celsius. Upstairs in the building was the new location of the Yamuna health clinic, one of the projects we supported last year, run by Dr. Tint Swe. We stopped in to say a quick hello, not wanting to interrupt his work and make the wait longer for all the patients.
Our preparations continued through Saturday and Sunday morning – photocopying, printing, and so on. Getting to the venue on Sunday afternoon ended up being a bit of a challenge: it poured with rain all morning and a small lake grew in front of the entrance to the building and our training room. We had to walk all the way around a vacant lot, jump down from a low wall (with our arms full of supplies) and then with the help of our rainboots walk through the lake to the door.
Our first session was on networking, discussing common problems faced by the refugee community, and brainstorming project ideas. I wasn’t sure how the participants would do with some of our “TEFL-tastic” interactive activities, but they all jumped right in, it was great. In one of the tasks, the participants were asked to make a list of their needs as refugees in India. Many made long lists, but one group summed it up as “A bright future”. Simple and apt.
Over the next three days, we did seminars on applying for a grant/making a project proposal, preparing a budget and activity timeline, running a project, project reporting, and sustaining your work after your grant money has been used up. It was physically demanding, doing training for 8 hours a day for 20-some people in that hot, hot room, but the participants were patient and hardworking. They gave us good feedback after each session, though “more breaks” was a common comment! We did always get positive feedback on the food, as we had lunches (fish curry, biryani) made for us by two of last year’s microgrant recipients who do catering as a means of earning a livelihood and supporting a free medical clinic.
On Wednesday we started the training again with a second group of 25 people, including 3 from Mizoram and Manipur states on the Indian-Burmese border. It was interesting to hear how their experience is different from that of refugees living in Delhi. In the second session we had an extra participant – a dog who liked to lie on the floor in our room. On another day of heavy rain, a small flood started in the corner of the room near the electrical equipment but some careful rechanneling of water in the vacant lot outside the side door helped us avoid a near-dangerous situation! We finished off the entire training with a joint session on Saturday on the topic of resettlement. Based on our experience with the Burmese refugees that have been resettled in the Czech Republic, we tried to give participants a realistic view of what awaits them when they are resettled. But more importantly, we sought to tell them that resettlement isn’t the only answer (only 1% of all refugees in India are resettled every year) and that they should already be working now in India towards doing what they want to do, rather than just waiting for resettlement. After a delicious dinner we showed the film Moving to Mars about two Burmese families that move from a refugee camp in Thailand to Sheffield, UK. The electricity cut out of course during the film but luckily only for 5 minutes.
One funny lesson I learned about doing training in India: when we arrived, our local partner Burma Centre Delhi asked us if we had already prepared the design for the banner. We told them we weren’t planning to have a banner. They were shocked and explained “It’s not a real training session if you don’t have a banner”. So we got one, you can see it in all its glory in the photo gallery below.

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Microgrants 2011: Getting Ready for Relaunch

After the trip of two team members to India in July, we are now adapting the website for the new microgrants. While we still need some time to enter all the information, you can already check out the list of projects here. (Smaller editorial changes may occur here and there ;-) )

And, if you don’t know it yet: You can sign up for our special newsletter where we update you as soon as we relaunch the program and on the further development.

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Is there a right way to travel to Burma?

Recently, the leading Burmese opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) announced that it had revised its position on tourism. While the party had discouraged all tourism to Burma for decades, it is now prepared to welcome responsible travelers who are aware of the political implications of their visits and who behave responsibly.

Children helping their parents. Photo:

Our Czech supporters know that the Burma Center Prague has developed a similar position in recent years. While we decided not to condemn all forms of tourism to Burma, we have clearly described several criteria that would turn even a well-meaning trip to Burma into a disservice to its people.

But is it possible to leverage all the advantages of responsible foreign travel to Burma for a positive development? And is it ethical to try to offset the unavoidable support of the regime by giving one’s maximum support to the people?

Only the future will tell whether or not responsible tourism will make a difference. What we believe is necessary to respond to the expected surge of foreign tourists to Burma is to raise the awareness of foreign tourists and of travel operators. They are responsible for their choices. And we are trying to do this in a relatively unusual way, by storytelling. We will display stories by travelers and by locals side-by-side and thus highlight each issue from different viewpoints. And we want to break a common pattern where development issues are tackled with locals serving only as passive placeholders without being able to raise their own voices. Finally, we want to empower these locals also through capacity building. If they don’t know about the issues or their rights, then they won’t be able to do real work on the ground.

According to this concept we have chosen the motto:

Empower People. Contribute Stories. Own your choices.

You can find the website at

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Report on the food distribution in February and March 2011

On 23 September 2010, the Burma Center Prague transfered donations of 100,078.00 Czech crowns to Indian Rupees and handed the money over to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). CHRO decided to facilitate the distribution this time in a more remote area, in the Kanpetlet township, Chin State. In this area, there are still many rats devastating the fields, but in 2011 there is nothing left to destroy. Presently, there are no seeds are available for planting new crops. Therefore, the people are desperate and don’t have much hope for better times.

Similar problems are affecting the health situation. Many people are suffering from malaria and other climate-related diseases. Sick people cannot go to the hospital, nor can they afford the medicine to cure their illness when they don’t even have enough to eat. And, since securing food remains the main priority, the villagers have no means to pay tuition fees for their children.

On 4 February 2011, the funds were received in the Kanpetlet township by the local organization Rat Famine Emergency Relief Committee (RFERC). RFERC coordinated and monitored the distribution of rice. Burma Center Prague has the names of the persons who carried out the distribution, but these names are being kept confidential to avoid conflicts with Burmese authorities.


Preparation for Food Aid Distribution

After the relief fund was received, RFERC had a meeting and decided which villages were in greatest need of aid and how the food should be distributed. The committee decided and agreed that relief food assistance should be distributed to seven villages where the rat infestation has been most severe. After the committee confirmed the time, the committee informed and consulted with local religious leaders and heads of the villages that were chosen to receive aid about the villages’ populations and the number of households and families, and identified distribution places. Families were required to carry the donated food back to their residences.

Since the affected areas are situated deep inside the country, the committee decided it would be best to buy the rice inside Burma and transport it by car. Security issues had to be taken into account to the timing and logistics of the distribution, as these activities had to be pursued unofficially.


People’s reactions

All the villagers from the villages that received relief food assistance are very grateful and happy, and say a word of thanks from the depths of their hearts, and ask many blessings for the food aid providers. RFERC is also very satisfied with the implementation of the distribution and had very rewarding experiences when handing out the rice and would like to express its sincerest thanks to all the donors from the far away countries and to the organizations who coordinated the fundraising.

  • Total rice bags distributed: 195 bags, (9,750 kg)
  • Number of villages: 7 villages
  • Number of household: 246 households
  • Population who received aid: 1390 persons
  • Period of distribution: 2 months


“Thank you very much and may God bless you richly.”

Head of RFERC

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Some words from blog to blog

As some of you may have already noticed, we are working intensively on a new project, which you can find at Like many other projects, we started from private funding after having identified the need. The question of funding is not yet solved and like our dictionary we might just continue it for the time being as a voluntary activity until we have reached a critical mass of users.

Fortunately, not only is the Burmese cyberspace full of enthusiastic bloggers and active supporters. The Czech branch of T-Mobile kindly provided us with a free mobile Internet connection, ICanLocalize and a free version of their multilingual plugin and Flattr has admitted us to their charity support. A big thank you to all of them!

Hope to also meet you on the new website!

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