Kiwi family's mercy mission for Myanmar

By Edward Gay

While the world's hopes are pinned on an international political resolution to the situation in Myanmar, one Kiwi family is heading to the Thailand border to help.

Stuart and Ruth Corlett, along with their three children, flew out of New Zealand yesterday to help in one of the many refugee camps on the Thailand border with Myanmar.

They are working with an organisation which runs orphanages, emergency relief and development programmes on the Thai boarder.

But as to what kind of role they will play, they're not 100 per cent sure.

Mr Corlett's background is in pharmacy. "I'm 90 per cent sure mine will be medical. There's a huge medical need," Mr Corlett said.

Ruth is an English as a second language teacher and could work in one of the orphanage schools while their three children, aged between eight and eleven, will attend an international school.

The family have spent the last seven years in Thailand and have been in constant contact with people in Partners, the non-governmental organisation running the programmes.

Mr Corlett said the family is well aware of the situation on the border.

"There was a girl about six years old who was found living with the pigs by one of the members of the relief teams. Her village had been destroyed and everyone was killed. Partners found the girl and took her to an orphanage," Mr Corlett said.

Partners supports another NGO - the Free Burma Rangers - who cross the border to perform emergency surgery in the bush.

Mr Corlett said the operations range from extracting bullets, to emergency amputations after land mines are stepped on.

He said Partners' role is two-fold. It has it's own operations on the boarder, providing help to the people fleeing Myanmar, while also raising awareness about their situation around the world.

Mr Corlett said the New Zealand government also has a role given the links between China and the military junta in Myanmar.

"New Zealand is looking at a fair trade agreement with China but the government needs to take another look," he said.

He said New Zealand has made a stand against nuclear testing in the past and Apartheid in South Africa. The situation in Myanmar is no different.

The Corletts plan on setting up a branch of Partners in New Zealand. There are already branches in Australia, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom.

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