Quite a year!
Chairman’s report 2019/2020
The trip in April 2019 included three trustees – Florence Bevan, Angela Finn and Linda-Ann Coole – and two new team members, Pamela Abrey and David Theobald. David has spent many years with the British Council abroad and came to head up a 3 day training camp on Income generation.
This training was preceded by a small children’s Bible camp with about 80 children. The usual camp venue was fully booked out so it was held at Sinai House, hence the lower numbers.
The income generation training course was attended by about 20 people. The results of an earlier training from 2018 with provision of piglets to several families was predominantly unsuccessful due to African swine flu which destroyed most of the pigs in SE Asia. Three families still had some healthy pigs however, and one young man had completed a computer course. It was agreed that the micro-loan payments to this group would not be required to be paid back.
Throughout the year monthly support has provided Suan’s home and other poor communities with rice and oil. As medical needs have arisen they have also been met. Suan lost several teeth in an accident in the summer and FLM paid for his dental treatment. His brother and wife had a baby son in November who had a medical condition requiring surgery. FLM paid for a private appointment to get a second opinion. The little one is currently ill and surgery expected at the end of 2020.We supported the couple for a few months as they travelled to the hospital and had to sleep on the pavement outside. Minor medicines have been covered for the children.
The big news of the year was the decision to build a house for Suan, his family, and the 34 former street children they look after. An additional five more new children were taken in from the war zone in Shan state just before Christmas.
In early 2019 the overcrowding at the flats in Yuzana district had led them to move half the household to a small plot of land they owned 2 miles away, where they built a ramshackle house. The extreme storms in May destroyed the house but they lived on there under makeshift tarpaulins.The monsoon rains were making this unworkable.
The charity had received a legacy of £10500 which was informally set aside for a vehicle for Suan. In addition there had been no crisis needs for emergency flood relief for two years and the funds were very healthy.
Mike and Florence went out in June to discuss the situation and after reporting back to the Board, the decision was taken unanimously to build on the plot of land. It should be said that it was proposed by the trustees that the chair should have this one-off airfare covered by the charity as it was an emergency trip and would be the second of three that year.
A reputable qualified builder was employed and work began in September. At the time of this AGM the house is due to be finished within 4 days on May15th.
The basic cost was £37500 but additional payments are now due for work not within the basic contract. The hardest part has been the transfer of funds as government regulations for foreign money transfer are extremely tight. We are now coming to the end with only one or possibly two final payments remaining.
In the meantime the normal monthly support has increased from £400 to £500 due to extra children and the difficulty of sourcing food due to Covid 19.
Pamela Abrey is a member of a Trust which supports projects for children abroad and we have been the beneficeries on three occasions. Woolpit Fellowship have been donating their monthly meeting offerings and again we can only say a huge thank you.
Hurst Methodist church in Cheshire have been giving support from September 2017 and this officially finished in August 2019. Mike and Florence went back at harvest festival in September to formally update the church and thank them for their wonderful support. An amazing outward-looking church to whom we are hugely grateful.
Also there has been an outstanding spirit of generosity among our circle of donors and I would like to officially record our heartfelt thanks on behalf of our family in Myanmar.
Also it would be appropriate here to record a special thanks to Mike our treasurer without whom the charity could not function. Apart from keeping accurate accounts, writing reports for the charity Commission and HMRC, he has dealt regularly with gift Aid and carried most of the burden of the transfer of money to Myanmar…a not insubstantial hurdle.
At Christmas time Suan and his family travelled to two remote villages with a lot of poverty and treated both villages to a Christmas meal and a sharing of the Christmas story.
Sandy Buddin had come on as a Trustee earlier in 2019 as she had been at all meetings since the beginning as a guest and was hugely supportive of the work. However in September we reluctantly accepted the resignations of both Ted and Sandy as they had felt that living now in Ireland and getting older made it harder to play a full part in the work. We record our grateful thanks for all they have done for FLM and for all their continued support, love and friendship.
The chair went out to Myanmar in October, self-funded as before, for a solo visit to see the work.
Sadly our April team visit for 2020 has had to be cancelled due to the current restrictions with Covid 19. It is still our hope that there will be a visit in October even if limited in scope.
It has been an exceptional year in all ways and we look forward to our next year with more visits, new team members and a house-warming celebration.