By Lauren Lacson and Fedly Bonneau
This summer, Fedly Bonneau, member of Delaware Avenue church and director of Bottles 4 Life, Inc. (B4L), met with the team from Fundación Smiles to prayerfully discover how, together, they could help the people in Thailand. With COVID-19 spreading around the globe, Bonneau’s heart was with the people.
The team decided to provide a 10-day supply of vitamin C, a mask, hand sanitizer, and a pamphlet on the NEWSTART health principles to the people in the refugee camps in Myanmar. On the ground in Mae Sot, Thailand, people were volunteering their time to help. “The response I received from the church community in Mae Sot was amazing,” Bonneau said. “Every day, my house was full of people doing different things to help get everything ready.”
Bonneau has been ministering in Thailand since 2018, and B4L partners with Fundación Smiles volunteers each year. Fundación Smiles was the driving force behind this project. During the pandemic, they have been helping on various fronts, like feeding the hungry in South America and showing up to help after the floods hit El Salvador. Soon, they would join B4L in the refugee camps in Myanmar.
Rafael Siordia, member of the Alhambra church and president of Fundación Smiles, said, “Seeing video of Fedly’s apartment on a daily basis reminded me of how powerful we can be as a human race; you had a mixture of races and cultures working to help people.”
Things were going according to plan—then the government of Myanmar shut everything down. Movement from one area of Myanmar to another area came with a 21-day quarantine, and government offices were closed. Accessing the refugee camps was no longer an option.
Not long after, Bonneau received a call from the Migrant Workers Association in Mae Sot requesting donated items for migrant workers going back to Myanmar. Many migrant workers had lost their jobs in Thailand, and the Thai and Myanmar governments worked out a way for those workers to go back to Myanmar. This call provided an opportunity for Bonneau and the Smiles team to give these migrant workers the supplies they had prepared for the refugee camps.
“I realized that these migrant workers were headed to every corner of Myanmar, taking the NEWSTART pamphlet with them,” Bonneau reflected. “The vitamin C is only for 10 days, the hand cleaning solution maybe a week, the mask will probably last a month, but that NEWSTART pamphlet can last for eternity. I had focused on one refugee camp in one corner of Myanmar, while every corner of Myanmar was God’s plan. What I thought was a failure, God used to perform a miracle.”