Farthest Corners to hold concert this Saturday

Q&A with Farthest Corners' Austin House on Situation in Burma...

And Saturday's benefit concert to raise money for COVID-19 relief in Asia

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Friends of Farthest Corners will hold a benefit concert and picnic dinner at Greenwich Presbyterian Church on Vint Hill Road in Nokesville, Saturday, Aug. 28 at 6-8 p.m.

The event supports Farthest Corners' efforts to bring oxygen tanks to patients needing ventillators for severe complications from Covid-19. The oxygen tanks will go to serve a small village in Burma (Myanmar)

Austin House grew up in Nokesville. As a young adult he embarked on a mission to Asia to provide humanitarian aid. In 2006, his friends at Greenwich Presbyterian helped him start the charitable nonprofit called Farthest Corners that mainly supports a village in northern Burma. 

Austin, his wife, Sinte, a Myanmar resident, and their team built an orphanage/hostile and a preschool/English language school. Since 2006, they have remained dedicated to their community, helping the people to prospere. 

Due COVID-19, the situation has grown dire and the Houses have returned to the United States. While in Northern Virginia, they are raising funds to send back to the village in north Myanmar. Funds will be used for purchasing oxygen tanks to save the lives of COVID-19 patients, many of whom have received no hospital care. 

Austin invites every to attend and give what they can when attending the outdoor concert. It is likely to be a fun time and it is at a safe outdoor venue. 

More information on the event posted here. 

or info@farthestcorners.org

Bristow Beat's Interview with Austin House of Farthest Corners

  1.  Is the vaccine available in Burma (Myanmar), and if it is, is it difficult to come by?

Austin House: Vaccinations have been minimal, and information from the military who performed the coup has been challenging to obtain. Conservatively, it's safe to assume that less than 5% of the country has been vaccinated. With the military in control of most vaccinations around the country, many people would rather die than accept something that legitimizes their rule. The military's rule also causes numerous complications for other international countries to help.

  1. BB: Is the situation much worse than it is in the Virginia and the United States?

Austin: It's difficult to describe how bad things in Myanmar (Burma) are during normal circumstances. It has one of the worst healthcare systems globally, and now that has collapsed with most government healthcare workers ceasing to work when the military coup occurred. Most people have to self-treat themselves at home, and many are dying because of a lack of treatment and oxygen.

  1. How did things change this summer? Did the Delta variant arrive in Burma, and has been the effect on the community?

Austin: Up through this summer, the pandemic was treated by the government and people as a massive cause for concern. Most people recognized that if the USA and other more developed countries were having difficulties, they wouldn't have a chance if COVID-19 took of the country. The Delta variant arrived about two months ago and began to spread rapidly through our community. The reason is that during the spring, many people fled our area and went to India for safety when fighting was heavy in our border region. As people returned from India to their homes in Burma, they brought the Delta variant with them, with a devastating impact. We've lost numerous friends and family (many young and healthy) during the past few weeks.

  1. Explain the situation at hospitals in the country.

Austin: Public hospitals are like old warehouses, with about 100 people sharing a space. Patients sleep on wooden beds and have to bring their blankets and mats. Family members provide the care and usually sleep on the floor underneath the bed of the one they are caring for. Our hometown has a population of 250,000 people; the main hospital had only one ventilator. Private clinics and hospitals are trying to provide care too, but they run the risk of the army attacking or arresting them, so there is a great deal of fear in going to hospitals.

  1. Explain the need for oxygen tanks and why Farthest Corners believes it is the best way to help the people there?

Austin: People are dying, often quickly, of asphyxiation as the virus ravages their bodies. We often see calls on Facebook from friends and family asking for help finding a tank of air as someone is dying before them. Often it is too late when the tank does reach them. Sometimes tanks can be found, but the need to refill them is becoming a huge issue. Long lines form in places where there are small oxygen refilling tanks, and the wait can take all day to fill one tank.  

  1. Many of the children were already orphaned, correct? What is the situation with the adults? Are children in the community losing mothers and fathers? Is it affecting people who are not elderly? 

Austin: Our work has mainly been in the far western and far eastern parts of the country. In the outlying eastern area, Farthest Corners has supported a children's home for over 15 years. This year, the children at our bordering home had to flee into the jungle as their village was bombed. One of the Burma Army's air bombings partially destroyed their school, and several villagers there were killed. As of now, the children are safe and have returned to the home. The area has been closed off as the local militias in the region fear that if COVID-19 gets there, they have little ability to help. In the western part of the country, fighting was heavy during the Spring, and now COVID-19 has been ravaging the area killing many people as young as in their 20's and in good health. Sadly, it will be challenging to know and calculate how many children have lost a parent.

  1. How is this affecting your school (preschool & community school for English language learners)?

Austin: Our school had to close in March 2020 and has never had the opportunity to reopen since. Whether by COVID-19 or the military coup, which puts children in danger. In March and April 2021, a lot of fighting occurred around our school and hometown. Simply, it would be too dangerous to operate as a school. 

  1. How have the kids in your community been learning this past year such as through virtual school or other means? 

Austin: Very little education has occurred. In the summer of 2020, there was an attempt to phase in schools, but when the virus rate escalated, the schools had to close. The Burma Army, to legitimize their rule, threatened many teachers to return to work. Most schools in the country remain closed, and many teachers have fled the country or are in hiding as the military arrests them for not returning to work.

  1. How do you think the oxygen tanks will make a difference?

Austin: People need oxygen to live. It is as easy as that. No oxygen tank for many has meant their death. In the past month, we’ve lost way too many friends and family members as they cried out for air in their final moments. One friend of our family encouraged me to return to the USA as we debated whether we should flee or not. He thought that we might make more of a difference by raising awareness in the USA about how bad the situation is. Unfortunately, he died of COVID-19 last week. So many like him need help that isn't there.

  1. How are you and Sinte settling into Nokesville? 

Austin: We're blessed to be surrounded by loving family, friends, and churches who support us in so many ways. We're saddened to be away from our life in Myanmar (Burma) and want to be with those we love, but we are also thankful to be back and serve in this community.

  1. How do your children feel about going to school in the U.S. this year? 

Austin: Pretty big deal. Our oldest hasn't been in a 'real' classroom since he was in first grade, and our other two children have never been to an American or international school. They are looking forward to their first time in a USA classroom, and they can't wait to hop on a big yellow school bus.

  1. When do you hope to get back to Burma? Do you have a plan? Is the school still in operation? 

Austin: For security reasons, we shouldn't discuss how and when we will get back to Burma. The school cannot open, and we don't imagine it will until the political situation changes.

  1. Why did you think an outdoor concert would be a fun fundraiser? Explain what the atmosphere will be like? 

Austin: We've done these types of concerts before, and they've always been successful. It is just a time of good food, fantastic fellowship, and wonderful music.

  1. Explain how it is a community event, and you hope to gather more people than just your congregation.

Austin: We receive support from lots of friends and churches throughout the Nokesville and NOVA area. We'll see people from all different churches and even Buddhist friends from a nearby temple come and support this work. It is always humbling to witness the hearts of this community come together and make an impact for a part of the world that has such great needs.

  1. Is it bitter-sweet to be back home? How does it feel for everyone? 

I wouldn't say that it is bitter-sweet. Instead, no matter where we are, our family is called to serve and glorify God. So we’ll do just that in Nokesville while we are here and also do our utmost to support those we love in Myanmar (Burma) who are just being devastated by an escalating war and the pandemic.

  1. Seeing what you've seen in, Myanmar do you recommend people here get vaccinated?

So many in Myanmar (Burma) are begging for the chance Americans have in receiving a free vaccination. This virus, particularly this Delta variant, kills and harms people of all ages in Myanmar (Burma). I hope many in our community who have questions or doubts about vaccinations will take time to ask their healthcare provider about them. Speaking for myself, I received a vaccination not out of fear, but instead, I believe Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, and I see this as one way I can follow my Lord. I hope others in this community see vaccinations as just another way to love one another in our community.

Stacy at BB: Thank you, Austin! 

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