Georgetown-based nonprofit serves in Southeast Asia
Ten years ago, Reed and Glenna Iwami entered Myanmar, a sovereign state in Southeast Asia that’s about the size of Texas. After nearly 30 hours of continuous travel, their bodies were drained, but their hearts fluttered with excitement. Soon, they’d reunite with their eldest son, who, along with his family, was living out his calling in Myanmar by working as a missionary with the International Mission Board.
“At that time, we knew very little about the country,” Reed recalls, “so when we landed, we were struck with this overwhelming feeling of oppression—the military were in the streets holding rifles and guns, the monetary and educational systems were in shambles, the vast population was surviving on very little . . . . I later learned that the military junta—which rules the country—is regarded as one of the top five most repressive human rights violators in the world.”
Despite the many hardships and injustices that Reed witnessed, he couldn’t help but admire how the Myanmar people continued to present themselves with grace, love, and compassion.
“On that first trip, my daughter, who was in high school at the time, wanted to stop and take a photo. So we pulled along the side of an old dirt road. It was raining, and we saw an old man sitting by a tree, cooking his lunch with charcoal. When he saw my daughter coming down the road, he pulled leaves off the tree and put them on the path so her shoes wouldn’t get dirty. Then, he offered her part of his meal,” Reed remembers with awe. “During that two-week visit, we fell in love with the people and began to better understand the issues they faced.”
Since then, Love for Myanmar has partnered with churches throughout Georgetown—including Crestview Baptist Church, their “home base”—to bring about positive change by raising money to provide food, clothing, education, and medical supplies to orphaned children in Myanmar. The organization has also started a neighborhood school, set up three micro-finance teams, and supported yearly mission teams.
Reed, who leads the mission trips, says that when teams visit the orphanages, “we’ll take them food, sing songs, eat with them, do crafts, and mentor them. And we always strive to bring a little laughter into their lives.”
After 10 years and more than 15 trips to Myanmar, Reed has seen more and more people take an active part in helping to improve the country’s human rights landscape.
“Things are still pretty rough, but we’re seeing positive change,” says Reed. “Last year, Obama visited Myanmar; he was the first American president to visit the country. . . . And I think we’ll see more support in the future.”
For more information or to donate to Love for Myanmar, visit loveformyanmar.org.