The standard descriptions of grinding political deadlock, ethnic conflict and democratic struggle that pass for informed commentary on Burma almost inevitably overlook a whole raft of unglamorous issues. These are issues that often have profound impacts on the lives of ordinary people caught on the edges of Southeast Asia’s most protracted civil conflicts.

The lack of educational opportunities for many in the exiled Burmese community is but one in a whole set of these less sexy topics. Education obviously matters. And without books, education is almost impossible. In an effort to provide a realistic outlet for people hoping to support the cause of Burmese exiles, the Burma websites, Burma Underground and Free Suu Kyi, have joined forces in a drive to collect “Books for Burma”.

They write:

Books for Burma is a project to bring educational resources to the people who need them – refugees and exiled activists from Burma who for political and financial reasons are unable to obtain or continue their formal education. Books for Burma gives individuals a chance to help their cause by donating new or used books – to activists who are on the frontlines of the struggle for democracy in Burma, or refugee children who are unable to attend local schools.

From November 1 through December 1, books and multi-media resources like CD-Roms will be collected here in the U.S. through book drives and online donations. The donated books will then be shipped to various exiled student, youth, and refugee organizations in Thailand and Malaysia, to help them build resource libraries and to educate themselves and their children.

If you want more information on this very worthwhile undertaking, or want to get in contact with the organisers, I encourage you to visit their sites – and