Akha Hill Tribe Thailand

http://www.akha.org Heart of the Golden Triangle in South East Asia, the Akha Hill Tribe people find themselves living in the mountain border zones of five countries, fighting to sustain their way of life in a time of consumerism and destruction of the natural environment. Embattled to defend their traditional culture from seige by american missionaries, they hang on. See how you can help. Join: akhaweeklyjournal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Make a donation or be a volunteer in Thailand.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Dear Friends:

A very knowledgeable person on coffee contributed time and energy to come up and see our starting coffee project and to give advice. Our thanks to Jaques Op de Laak from Holland who has some thirty years experience with raising coffee commercially in South East Asia and other places in the world and who helped establish disease resistant coffees for Thailand highland areas.
We have permission to translate his book on coffee into the Akha language for use in the Akha community which we very much appreciate.
In a matter of a couple of days we were able to go over planting methods, how to strengthen the seedlings, diseases, harvesting, processing and roasting.
We are seeking a specific sponsor to help us set up a roasting and packing operation to the benefit of the growing villages and also as a means of supporting Akha projects.
We have been successful to get a number of things accomplished this spring, some of the quite weighty, and as in the past the cost of these efforts, to keep up with events, has depleted our normal funds, such that other projects were delayed.
Such has been the case of the press project, repairs and more repairs, long ways from a publishing center of activity, with a Gestetner press, and a bill still preventing us from moving forward. This was some disappointement as the front page was rolling off nicely and already telling us about improvements we would make.
Please let me know if you will help us overcome this challenge and get the books rolling?
Speaking of helping, the Paypal account has locked, we were told a security alert, that we had to send two documents to the, which we did and it remains locked so that you can not make donations via that. Locked for four months, with repeated protests to Paypal. So we are no longer using their services and have not replaced that with a secure card site of our own yet so please send your donation to the Salem Oregon address.
Sigi of Germany has been supportive of our Akha Language School even though we don’t have all the books we need due to press situation. One teacher there.
I am wading through web site rebuilds before booting them to Akha.org, quite a task each time.
The border with Maesai at Burma continues to be closed. The Defense Minister Chavalit argues endlessly with the Thai army and can not explain to any of us which country he lives in or is a citizen of.
The sporadic fighting continues on the border, people who monitor such things insist that it is a "for show war" to draw the Americans into the situation and their money in order to encourage a "solution" that gives the whole region more dollars. This is not totally unreasonable based on how undecided and unhurried the entire exchanges appear to be, the Burmese insisting they are going to over run the Shan, every other day artillery duals, just two hills apart, skirmishes, all over a surprisingly small area of slopes.
The Wa, Chinese dressed up as Wa, Shan, Thai, Burmese have all been in a road building flurry (note they didn’t blade our road to their army camp, so the women are still walking and the Lahu plant rice on the road for another year, and miscarriages are normal events that after 21 all the journalists still insist they are not newsworthy - all male journalists - and meanwhile the army dug out a huge new scarring road on the opposite ridge to come from that way instead, the long way around, work with two cats, two backhoes, and heck, on our side we already did the hardwork for them. But 20 Lahu families and 20 meters of rice terrace are all the wedge the army needs)so they can go everywhere at once and have a yet to be seen decisive war.??????
Meanwhile the labs get moved to town so it may get real boring up there on the ridge when everyone is vying for "Mac Lab" in their apartment complex, a bowl of big crystals and a meth party.
The Akha and other sources insist that the Shan and some Thai troups got their butts kicked playing up in the fields of the lord, lots of bodies that didn’t come home for dinner, the Shan deny this, but the guys I saw sure didn’t loose limbs roasting weenies at a scout camp.
Defense Minister Chavalit now is oinked that the huge casino on the Burma side across from Maesai has been associated with an investment scheme of his lovely wife Khun Ying Loeuy, and demands that naughty people implying that there may be a conflict of interest that is confusing the intentions of the two countries and their joint effort to put a stop to drug trade please stop such insinuations about a well known Thai general who is good friends with Rangoon.
Course Rangoon has a few headaches of its own and we sure wish them and all the people of Burma the best progress in an economically depressed area.
Hopefully all anguish at the border will be resolved soon and we can all go over for a game of blackjack at the new "palace".
Meanwhile, there is an army truck empty or full on every curve of the road on the Thai side, and odd looking equipment, all over these disputed few hills. The Burmese insist that the Shan must go, the Thais admit it, but also insist the Shan are not there.

We now have a new volunteer site at www.idealist.org. You can go there and type in "Akha" to the search engine to see our page and what we are trying to find assistance with.

Mountain rice is planted and rice terrace rice is going in now, so all the villages quite busy.

Loh Guuh was an Akha man who was killed by a gun shot wound to the head in a suspected sting operation more commonly referred to as "entrapment" nearly a year ago last August. Two high school boys from the same village who had been asked to "help count" non existent money because they had gone to school, were also arrested. One got twenty five years. One got fifty years. That was the nephew of Loh Guuh. He has now been transfered to Bangkok. He was 19 now 20.
The drug war is a war with people without a face.
Yet the money put into helping the poor in the areas most effected by this war is non existent. Poverty was a substitute crop, and the giants who insist on the war and also insist that it never come to a resolution, never pay the price.
You are an Akha kid who has seen your village uprooted by the army from the mountains, dumped on borrowed land next to a super highway, lucky to see a day when there is an egg in the house, let alone a glass of milk, and you can maybe make a $1 a day for spraying herbicide for a Thai farmer, cause they sure don’t want to spray Zeneca product from London (paraquat) themselves, so someone tells you that at the edge of the corn field there is a ton of money and would you please go count it, and you get fifty years. Can anyone tell me what US Gov. employee would see their child get fifty years for knowing how to count?
In appreciation of your continued support, we hope the book project will roll ahead soon.
Matthew McDaniel

The Akha Heritage Foundation
Maesai, Chiangrai, Thailand
Donations by check or money order may be sent to:
The Akha Heritage Foundation
PO BOX 6073
Salem OR 97304 USA
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