I met an amazingly qualified new co-worker of mine yesterday, a medical doctor who once worked in a leprosy mission and has a masters degree in public administration from the Kennedy School in Boston.
Naw Rebecca Htin is a world-class humanitarian. She begins this month as the new World Concern country director for Myanmar (Burma). She’s a mother of three and her husband is a neurosurgeon. And she also grew up in Burma, which was the name of her native country until 1989, when the current military government decided to reinforce the country’s separation from British colonial rule.
Naw is “Ms.” in her language. We call her Rebecca, and she’s also an answer to prayer. Our Humanitarian Aid programs in Myanmar make up World Concern’s largest operation in any country where we work. And yet for several months, we have been searching for a leader who qualified and able to take on the challeneges in this country filled with obstacles.
Rebecca told me, “Not many people in the country has the opportunity like I’ve had to study, to have this exposure. I think I need to give something back.”
What she says is very true. I just returned from SE Asia and visited some of World Concern’s Humanitarian Aid projects in the delta region, where 140,000 people died in a cyclone last year. What we need is a leader who understands the multifaceted need in a region that seems to be getting back on its feet, but still in a bit of a collective shock.
Rebecca told me,”Psychologically, economically, emotionally, there are many things yet to do to continue life again.”
Often people know book knowledge, but don’t know how to put it in to practice. Rebecca used to work as a leader in World Vision Myanmar, and more recently has experience in the hard-hit delta region. She has been serving in a Christian mobile mission in Bogelay, a fishing village where tens of thousands died in the storm.
Before the cyclone and to this day, World Concern has also worked with ethnic minorities in Myanmar, people who have generally not had the same opportunities for education and jobs. Also in this regard, Rebecca brings personal knowledge, as she grew up in the Karen state and understands the challenges.
Rebecca will be off to Myanmar today, a long couple of flights back home. Like many called into the field of humanitarian aid, she says she’s been preparing for an opportunity like this, to show the compassion of Christ through action, not expecting anything in return.