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Fifty years, fifty countries: Mekong

By Gideon Heugh | 20 Jul 2018

The Mekong River flows nearly 3,000 miles from the Tibetan Plateau into southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The naturally rich and fertile lands around the river basin make up a region known as Greater Mekong. Nearly half of the world’s rice is grown here.

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Mekong.

The Mekong River flows nearly 3,000 miles from the Tibetan Plateau into southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The naturally rich and fertile lands around the river basin make up a region known as Greater Mekong. Nearly half of the world’s rice is grown here.

Following decades of armed conflicts, relative peace in recent years has led to a strengthening economy. Governments in the region have cooperated more, helping to build infrastructure such as roads.

Despite this, poverty and inequality remain widespread. Shifting demands on shared resources like rivers and forests are altering delicate ecological balances, often with a negative effect marginalised communities.

‘I do it out of love’
Tearfund’s work in Mekong is focused on the area where the borders of China, Mynamar, Thailand and Laos meet. Our local partners are working hard to transform the lives of vulnerable migrants – giving them control over their own development in a sustainable way.

An important aspect of this includes working through local churches to protect the rights of migrant workers, including their citizenship rights when they enter a country. Church communities provide safe temporary homes for people fleeing economic hardship or persecution.

Khin Kihn*, a lady from Myanmar, has received 100 people into her home over the last few years. Neighbours and the church family have been supporting her by providing meals. The migrant visitors have also been given paid work on the local farms. When we asked about her motive in doing this, she replied, ‘I do it out of love.’

Envisioning the church
We’re also helping communities to prepare for natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods, and working with children at risk, especially girls who are vulnerable to human trafficking.

Tearfund aims to envision 100 churches in Mekong to meet the needs of these migrant communities. We have been working to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence through programmes to educate churches and vulnerable groups, and are developing a number of local language resources to do this work.

PLEASE PRAY:

*Name has been changed to protect identity

If you'd like to know more, please visit our Mekong page. And if you've missed any other articles in this series you can find them here.

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Written by Gideon Heugh


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