Help 4 Forgotten Allies (H4FA) is a United Kingdom Registered Charity, Registration Number 1139273.
You can view the charity’s accounts and reports by following this link to the UK Charity Commission page.
Help 4 Forgotten Allies provides grants and support to native veterans of the armed forces who loyally and selflessly supported the British during the war in Burma from 1942-45.
Burma, since renamed Myanmar, has not been at peace since World War II ended. The country’s ethnic minorities, who make up around 40 per cent of the population, have for decades been fighting for independence or greater autonomy. Among them are the Karen, who fought a long and bloody conflict from Burma’s independence in 1949 until a ceasefire was signed in 2012 - the world’s longest-running civil war. The Kayah (Karenni) people signed a ceasefire the same year, while in the north of the country the Kachin people remain locked in conflict with the Burmese army despite negotiations for a national ceasefire in the run-up to the 2015 elections.
During World War II, many men from these ethnic groups fought alongside the British, during their long retreat into India, in their subsequent southwards advance, and as guerillas behind Japanese lines. Many were subsequently caught up in the conflicts that racked independent Burma, and have been driven out with their families to live in poverty in one of the nine refugee camps situated just inside the Thai border. Others remain scattered throughout Burma, some in towns and cities and some deep in their jungle villages. In all cases, being ethnically separate from the majority Burmese, they have been regarded with contempt by the government and in areas of conflict have witnessed the appalling treatment of their people, with torture, rape and forced labour commonplace.
Despite their invaluable help, loyalty, sacrifice and contribution to the defeat of the Japanese in Burma, these veterans have not received a penny of official British government aid in the 60 years since the end of World War II. The situation remains dire for many of them.
The establishment of H4FA began with a chance meeting. In 1998, Projects to Support Refugees from Burma founder Sally Steen was visiting a hospital in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, near the site of the notorious Death Railway, when she met an elderly Karen veteran.
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"Living among the dying and demented at the hospital - a rather grand term for what is little more than a large hut - was Saw Yoshoo (Joshua), an old soldier who turned out to have been a pupil of my grandfather, headmaster of Government High School, Maymyo, Burma, who had to flee the Japanese advance,” Sally wrote in her trip report.
“Aged 87, Saw Yoshoo was recruited into the Burma Rifles in 1934. Still perfectly lucid, he reeled off his name, rank, number and the name of his commanding officer. When I asked him what he would like me to do for him, he replied that I should 'inform [his] officers'. His own poverty - one pair of trousers, no medication for his asthma - was clearly secondary."