Johnson: Roughneck going all out to help the oppressed in Burma
Mike Carnegie and his wife have donated $30,000 and helped raise more for local charity Partners
Mike Carnegie’s brother-in-law Jacob was the hook.
“He was travelling around Thailand and he ended up helping Partners,” explained the Calgary Roughnecks’ defender and assistant captain on Friday. “You can’t actually do your work in Burma, it’s illegal. So he had to work inside the Thailand border.
“When I signed with the Calgary Roughnecks, in ’08, he talked to me about it. He said ‘You’ve got to check out this charity. It’s called Partners and their head office is in Calgary.’ ”
Since then, after some initial research and an ever-growing awareness of the need to act, the connection, the commitment, has only deepened. The result: Tonight launches the third annual Mike Carnegie Burma Campaign to assist the wonderful work done by Partners Relief and Development, a Christian international relief and development agency founded in 2001.
Carnegie’s wife, Hayley, has taken an equally hands-on approach and now works on the Partners’ board. And in three years, Carnegie himself has donated $30,000 from his professional lacrosse salary to the agency, working to improve the lives of all those, especially children, affected by the ongoing conflict and tyranny in Burma.
Other Partners headquarters are located in Thailand, the U.S., Norway, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. Their Canadian website is www.partnersworld.ca.
So for a while, anyway, talk of Saturday’s impending National Lacrosse League rematch against the Edmonton Rush at Scotiabank Saddledome, as well as the ‘Necks’ current three-game win streak, were put aside to address a more immediate, more fundamental, more important topic than any mere sporting event: The daily injustices being forced on 60 million Burmese by one of the most oppressive military regimes on the planet.
The country has been under military control since a coup d’état in 1962. Civil strife has been rampant since 1948. The United Nations has decried the use of countless human rights violations, among them genocide, slavery, human trafficking and a lack of freedom of speech.
“For the last 60 years they’ve had an internal war,” Carnegie said, at the Roughnecks’ weekly pre-game media availability, “and the government kills its own people, for resources, for land, different things, their own initiatives.
“I’ve just helped with Partners in assisting them with some money to do refugee work, to build schools, to set up medical clinics, to assist with training, with animals and crops, all kinds of sustainable stuff. I’ve kicked in a portion of my salary the last couple of years to help them, to bring awareness of what’s going on in that country.
“They’re in the media more and more. (Former U.S. First Lady and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton just went over there, did some touring. A lot more people are going there and seen what’s going on, but you’re still not hearing a lot of the dark side of that country. It’s getting better, but it’s not getting better.
“Burma has more child soldiers than any other country in the world. We’re talking 80,000 children in their army, kids 12 and under. The burning of villages, shelling to get to oil reserves. It’s very rich country in terms of resources. Very rich. And they do awful things to get people out of the way.
“Financially, I’d like to kick in a bit more, but you do what you can.”
Carnegie’s commitment, though, is admirable, using his web page, an up-and-running Facebook page, as well as different media to trigger increased attention to the situation.
The Roughnecks have done their bit in assisting him, donating a portion of the 50/50 draws at home games, allowing Partners to run a silent auction, through a portion of select ticket proceeds, as well granting him permission to use the club’s website to deliver the message.
Carnegie has yet to visit Burma.
“One day,” he says, hopefully. “My wife and I have talked about it.”
The problems there are long-standing, with deep roots. Solutions are anything but straightforward.
“We are so fortunate in Canada,” said Mike Carnegie. “More than anything, I want to bring awareness to the situation going on there. In the last year, more than 200,000 men, women and children were displaced from their homes due to ongoing conflicts and are in desperate need of the assistance that Partners Relief and Development Canada is providing.
“I’ve just felt the need and the call to help them even more.”
No. 16 in your Calgary Roughnecks’ program.
Making a difference on the floor.
And off it.
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at email@example.com
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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