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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 1st 2008: Monthly contributions at Ka-ni Village Orphanage

In September, we reported about the Ka-ni village orphanage and our first donations at the orphanage. Ka-ni orphanage hosts 93 children and provides primary and secondary education to children right at the orphanage. High school, however, is an hour walk from the orphanage. We have learnt about the orphanage, and we are touched by the orphanage’s great interest and care for their children education. We would like to help the orphanage at least ease some of their financial burden for their great cause.

Fortunately, with your support, we were able to start our $100 monthly donation at Kani orphanage last month and we are happy to share with you that our monthly contribution was just in time for 5 months educational support (Nov 2008 – Mar 2009) for 10th graders. Below is the report from our volunteer, KK from the field.

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Trip to Ka-ni village

Working together with Moegyo (MHF) for Kani Village donation trip, I have been on the adventurous journey to delta area that I’ve never dreamt of before. I’ve done good deeds and learnt the lives of people after Nargis. Being witnessed the disaster victims, I found out how difficult their lives were. I also admire their strength during and after disaster. Along our visit to Kani village, I saw many Nargis survival children. Kani village orphanage gives them accommodation, food and education as they arrived there. Even though I can’t help them with all aspects of their livelihood, I want to help them get good education as I believe that education is their best foundation to acquire knowledge and get ahead in life.

On my last trip to Kani Village orphanage, one of the things I found out from the orphanage that they wanted to hire teachers and guides for 10th graders for this school year. I told them not to worry about the 10th standard students. I would help them out as much as I could. After that I was thinking about my words and worried that if I could keep my promise if what they need is so much more than I alone can afford.

Monthly contributions

Soon afterwards, I was delighted to find out that MHF was planning on sending more contributions to the orphanage. As soon as I heard that news, I phoned to Kani and informed them that we’re now going to help the 10th grade students. When they heard that news, they were very happy as their burden was relieved. They said again and again that they are very thankful for our help.

Three teachers were assigned, Math, Physic and chemistry teachers cost 30,000 each per month (~$30) and the study-guide costs 60,000 per month (~$60) who helps and guides them with all subjects. All the tuition fees are covered by MHF. When I asked them what is still needed for the students, they were hesitated to tell me. At last, they said they could use 10th grade old question books. That part came to me and I donated those and some exam outline books. Now the 10th grade students in Kani are studying with teachers and practicing their lessons for this school year until March 2009 when the final exams come.


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There are many children who need our support and care. We want to thank those who are in the field helping and shaping the lives of those children for the better. We want to thank our donors for the continued support and opportunity for us to take part in this great cause. Together, we can make a difference in many young lives.

Please click here for Ka-ni Orphanage photos.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 1st, 2008: Popa Moegyo Orphanage Report

Introduction

One of the objectives of Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation has been to help the needy children of Myanmar, and Moegyo has worked with some orphanages towards that goal. A core member of Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation also serves as a patron of a forest monastery near Mt Popa in upper Myanmar. The abbot of the monastery is active and enthusiastic about helping children. He’s also knowledgeable about computers, and uses technologies whenever possible. More information about the forest monastery can be found at Buddha Sasana Net.

The monastery was established in 2005, but due to shortages in funding, the abbot was only able to move in to the monastery in 2007. In a prime location at the foot of the popular travel destination – Mt Popa, original plans called for a meditation center and an orphanage in the monastery compound.

When Cyclone Nargis struck the southern coastal areas of Myanmar in May 2008, the abbot decided to ease the suffering of some Nargis orphans by offering a place for them to stay. Accordingly, he approached the Patron and member of Moegyo for funding to open an orphanage.

In July 2008, Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation decided on an initial funding amount of approximately $5,000 to construct a building necessary for an orphanage. In October 2008, Moegyo members in Yangon visited the area for assessing the needs of the orphans. This report is the result of that visit.

No Orphans from the Nargis Area

Immediately after Cyclone Nargis, many orphans were taken to temporary shelters or orphanages by individuals, aid groups or religious organizations (i.e. monasteries or groups led by Buddhist monks, such as Sitagu Sayadaw, as well as Christian groups). Then, the authorities stepped in with an official policy for rescuing, rehabilitating and resettling Nargis orphans. Plans for a large orphanage were made public. Large scale private efforts were deemed no longer necessary. It was in this situation that the Mt Popa monastery’s Abbot and Patron decided to no longer pursue Nargis orphans for the orphanage. Instead, the monastery decided to continue with the orphanage plans, albeit with orphans from other areas, mainly the Chin area. This decision was based on the fact that the Abbot’s mentor is already established in Chin State with orphanages.

Current Situation

Currently, there are 20 Chin children who are defined as a) having no parents; b) having a single parent; c) extremely poor. Some of them were already Samanays before joining Popa Orphanage. Others weren’t. But now, under the circumstances, the Abbott has decided to turn all of them into Samanays, for various reasons, which will not be delved into here. All of them will be converted out of Samanay-hood when conditions permit (budget-wise).

Funds

Monthly funds (to feed the orphans) are most important. Toilets are necessary for health reasons. Right now, they are going into the forests. The monastery and the orphanage need the following things:

1. Monthly Expenditure
a. Monthly fund 600,000 Kyats

2. Immediate needs 2,473,550 Kyats3. Near-term needs 1,740,000 Kyats
a. Water tank (10’ x 10’) 1,500,000 Kyats
b. PVC 1” Pipeline 90,000 Kyats
c. Electrical wiring 150,000 Kyats

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Thank you all for giving us the opportunity to help the children in Myanmar who are in great need. Together, we can make a difference in many young lives.

Please click here to see the photos of the orphanage development.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October 22nd 2008: Report from RPDG Group - First Phase of Project 2

Recovery Project for Persons with Disabilities and their family

With your donations, we were able to support RPDG group with nargis recovery project.

RPDG group was able to accomplish the first phase of the following recovery projects for persons with disabilities (PWD) and their families within Yangon Division. The total cost for the first phase of the project was $5685.



- Reconstruction of 15 houses in Dhala Township, Shwe-Pyi-Tha Township, Hlaing-Tha-Yar Township, North-East Dagon Township, South Dagon Township, Hlaing-Tha-Yar Township, and Insein Township.




- Repairing of 15 shops in Shwe-Pyi-Tha Township, North-East Dagon Township, South Dagon Township, Hlaing-Tha-Yar Township and Thin-Gan-Gyune Township






- Providing Capital Funds of 50000kyats each for a total of 7 shops in the community

- Providing additional fund of 20000kyats each to ran the shops for a total for 20 shops in the community.

Outcomes of Beneficiaries:
- 15 damaged houses have been reconstructed. As a result, the PWD families are recovering from living difficulty.

- 15 damaged shops have been rebuilt. As a result, PWD families will be able to operate their business smoothly whereas the others have owned stable place for their earning.




- For those who received supported fund (27 small businesses) are able to operate their business and generate regular income continuously to support for their families.





- Our main conceptual goal, the independent living of disabled people will be completed by supporting upon our peers’ jobs.












Other outcome
- Promoted the public awareness on disabled people in the community through our group effort as well as our achievements by means of this implementation.

- By implementing our rehabilitation activity we also discovered the more disabled people in the community so that we get realistic information about our disabled peers. These will be useful for coming disability survey and networking movements.

- Those persons with disabilities will able to get more opportunities for their various movements, trainings and rehabilitation.


Challenges
- Our RPDG camera was out of function on 19.8.08 when it dropped to the flooded street because of heavy rain. Although we tried to repair it immediately by taking extra strength and time on 20.8.08, its function could not become into its original stages. It is so critical for us to take pictures for our record and also for the report.

- During our implementing process, we faced some complex situation, i.e., we had to take adjustment with regional authority in order for us to accomplish our tasks at Dhala and South Dagon Township.

- Our trained volunteers were not able to take part in the whole project. However we were able to accomplish with other volunteers with their best input to complete the project.

- We had a great support from skilled carpenters volunteering with our project to build four houses and eight shops.


Thank you for your continued support.

Please click here for more photos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 29th 2008: Donation at Ka-ni Village Orphanage

Ka-Ni village orphanage is located near Phyar Pone which was one of the areas affected by the Cyclone Nargis. As it is quite a far reached area, orphanage and village received very limitted donation. Last month, with the help of volunteers, we were able to donate $600 to the orphanage and clothings for children. We want to thank our volunteers, KK team for going out there personally and JL for his inspiration. Below is the report from the field.

Trip to Ka-Ni Village

This trip took more travel time and was more exhausting than the last trip when we found this orphanage while we were going around delta making donations soon after the cyclone hit the region. We could go by car to Phyar Pon last time with short driving time but now to avoid tiredness from lunar surface like road and to bring the donated items, we had to take a ship from Yangon to Phyar Pon. We left Yangon port at 7:00 pm in Saturday evening. The ship cruised all night and docked "Phyar Pon" port at 4:30 am in Sunday morning. We got to have breakfast at 5:00 am in Phyar Pon and boarded a small motorized boat (sampan) at 6:00 am to go to the orphanage. The boat goes out to the sea for about two hours and then turned back into a creek to get to the orphanage. This boat ride going out to the sea was the scariest part for me as I cannot swim. I was sitting stiffed the whole time in the boat wearing a life jacket. It was worst when we were near the sea where the tides were high. On the way there, we saw a boat still ashore on land. The captain of our boat explained the scene of the disaster. He explained to us how their lives had changed overnight and how people, properties and the trees were swept by tidal waves. I came to realize of our Buddha words that things are always changing. The things we always see can disappear in a minute. Nothing is stable. That place was a good example for me.

Donation

We finally arrived to Ka-Ni village at 8:30 am. We went straight to the monastery to donate money as soon as we arrived at Ka-Ni village. The chairman of the orphanage accepted the money donation. We then donated robes to the monks and the monks asked us to take Sabbath and practice Buddhist Eight Precepts since we arrived there on the day of waxing moon.

On Moegyo's behalf, we donated $600 (700,000 kyats for children' general use and 40,000 kyats to add a meat dish for one whole day for the children since they only get to eat beans and vegetables when there's no donor). Total money donated was 12,000,000 kyats for general use and 160,000 kyats for 4 days of adding a meat dish for the children. We were delighted to learn that they will be having meat dish every Sunday for the next 4 weeks.




School

We then went on to see their schools. The orphanage operates primary and secondary schools for the children. All the children in Ka-Ni village go to those schools. After the cyclone, the orphanage began accepting 10th grade students. Those 10th graders walk about an hour through paddy fields to the high school in "Tha Main Htaw" town. During the rainy season, there is no motor way as the roads are too muddy for the small cars to travel and their walking duration extends to 2 hours. Then, they take a bus half way to school that costs 500 kyats. By taking bus half way, round trip to school gets reduced by an hour. They always have to set out to school 90 minutes ahead of the school time. They get back to the orphanage at 1:30 pm since the school finishes at 12:00 pm. The orphanage provides them travel cost and lunch boxes as they can’t have breakfast at the monastery to arrive school in time.

Children quarters

Then, we went to the children quarters and distributed 3 big bags of children clothes (including one bag from MHF Thailand), exercise books with lovely cartoon character, pens, pencils, 10th grade text books, snack packs, sweets and jelly. The children were so happy to receive the goods. We then followed the children to their dining room to see them have lunch and took photos. After lunch, we followed the children to their play room. Their play room is one of the child friendly places that "Save the Children" donated. The room contains donated toys, books, comics, and board games. We listened to children reading and participated in their board games. The children sang "Thank You" song to us and we sang other lullabies and nursery rhymes with them.

Then, we went around the village to take a look around the damages and repairs. We found that major repairs were not done due to little donations from just a few organizations arrived here as it's quite a far reached area. We also observed that most people in the area are struggling to survive on day to day basic after the cyclone and still can't make extra to donate to the orphanage. That is one of the reasons we came back here to help out this place. Another reason is that we admire the objectives and practices of the orphanage. The orphanage takes in the children and trains them with three aims, to be well-educated, to have good moral skills and to have better living.

The orphanage was established on 28th July, 1958 with 59 orphans. It became a registered school on 21st March, 1960. The orphanage only accepted the children of 5-14 yrs old at first. After the cyclone, the house also accepted high school students. There are now 11 high school students.

Children daily program

5:00 am – 6:00 am: Get up, wash and clean and then pay homage
6:00 am – 7:00 am: Assemble, salute national flag and do exercise
7:00 am – 8:00 am: Study their lessons
8:00 am – 9:00 am: Prepare to go to school
9:00 am - 9:30 am: Have breakfast
9:30 am - 4:00 pm: School time
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm: Clean their beds and rooms
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Have dinner
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Do homework
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Pay homage and check students
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Study time (orphanage runs diesel generator when there is no electricity)
9:00 pm – 5:00 am: Bed time
Every Saturday night, the children can watch a movie before bedtime.

Current list of children

25 children with no parents
32 children with no mothers
10 children with no fathers
26 children whose relatives are too poor to support them and can’t afford for their education

93 total children consisting:

6 - 10th graders
5 - 9th graders
5 - 8th graders
6 - 7th graders
9 - 6th graders
9 - 5th graders
8 - 4th graders
9 - 3rd graders
7 - 2nd graders
9 - 1st graders
20 - Primary school students

Orphanage monthly operating cost

3 lakhs – (~$300): meals with beans and vegetables
0.5 lakhs – (~$50): school supplies
1.5 lakhs - (~$150): diesel for generators
0.5 lakhs (~$50): coal or burning wood
1.65 lakhs – (~$165): transportation for high school students (500 kyats x 11 students) x 30 days

Now the orphanage plans to hire a study guide for 10th grade students to pass exam with high marks. The orphanage is also considering how they could help them stand on their own feet after they passed their exam. The orphanage promotes and supports the students to acquire good education, have decent career and earn respectable living. We were delighted that part of our donation money could be used for the good purpose for them. We were also glad to see the children happy to receive the goods we donated. We hope to support them more in near future and see them grow up to be good citizens.

On the way back from the monastery, I have learnt how life is for the children there and how they have to struggle for survival and advancement in life. As I have never seen such kind of situation, I got shocked when I heard how they survived from the storm. When I heard their stories, my eyes filled with tears and felt sympathy and dismay. It was amazing to see how they had strength to overcome the disaster at their young age. I really admire their courage. At the same time, I thank Moegyo and its donors for sending donation to the orphanage and my friend, JL for giving me an idea to go on such adventurous trip to help the children. Without his idea and sympathetic words for the children, I wouldn’t be on such exhausting and dangerous trip to do this good deed.

Please click here for more photos.

Friday, September 19, 2008

September 18th 2008: Donation at Mingalar Orphanage

Mingalar Orphanage was one of the orphanages that were damaged during the Cyclone Nargis which need a lot of help to repair the buildings and support the children. We have heard about Mingalar Orphanage from a couple of sources and last month, our volunteers were able to visit the Orphanage personally.

Mingalar Orphanage is located in Phayargyi Village, Twuntay Township, Yangon Southern about 1.5 hours drive from Yangon. The road is quite terrible, one of the cars had one of its tires punctured, requiring eight stitches. The orphanage is located inside the Phayargyi Mingalar Monastery and is situated on a land of 12 acres. The compound has a total of 8 buildings.

Training School

The Mingalar Orphanage Training School is both a legally registered orphanage, and an officially recognized primary basic education school. Established in 1998, it now houses monks, a school, staff (teachers) and children of various races. It has now 280 children of mixed gender, with ages ranging from 2 to 20, and with various ethnic background representing 43% Pa-Oe, 35% Myanmar, 19% Karen, 2% Shan and 1% Mon, Rakhine and Palaung. During the cyclone, 3 boys perished, 4 boys hospitalized and 15 boys injured and ten or so children were taken in after the Cycone.

The school has a list of damage assessments sustained during Cyclone Nargis and is requesting donors to help repair partially damaged buildings or new construction of collapsed buildings. Library, restrooms and two sleeping quarters were completely damaged.

Meals

The orphanage feeds the children 3 mid-size bags of rice, 6 vissas (10 kg) of oil, vegetables at a daily cost of 70,000 Kyats ($70). A month’s total cost is 2,100,000 Kyats ($2,100) on mostly vegetarian diet for the children. For the students attending the school in the city, they also have to prepare 140 lunch boxes, which cost more.
Scholarships

The children’s education levels range from nursery to university. The head abbot was able to properly license the primary school a few years ago, so the children are able to stay inside compound and study. But he could not get the license for middle school so those children have to attend school in the city, and need transportation arrangement and lunch boxes.

The school is accepting donations in the form of scholarships for the students, for learning-related expenses.

University student: $150 per year, per student
Grade 11: $100 per year, per student
Grade 10: $100 per year, per student
Middle school students: $50 per year, per student
Primary school students: $25 per year, per student

The school and the children have a minimal required amount of exercise books, stationery, etc., thanks to the generosity of many donors. However, scholarships are being requested.

We were pleased to see that children are polite, disciplined, well-behaved and seem to care about education and care about each other. We were touched when we saw a 9-year old boy being kind to and caring for an unrelated 2-year old boy. It was heartening to see such young and under-privileged children living such harsh lives, yet still managing to smile.

Our trip and donation

When donors visit them during weekends and holidays, the children are fed meat. During our visit, we made a donation of $140 (50 cents per child), so the children were able to feast on pork and soup. We were able to buy 30 vissas (50 kg) of pork.

During our visit, we
- Donated one meal (lunch) for 280 kids and offered alms (lunch) to 10 monks.
- Assessed damage during Cyclone Nargis and future requirements of the orphanage.
- Gathered information on best practices and success factors for running a successful orphanage.


In coming month, we will be donating $500 again at the Orphanage to help repair the buildings.

Time has passed. It has been more than five months since Cyclone Nargis. For some of us, those days may seem like just the dark memories, but for many others, the struggle, pain and sufferings still remain. Let’s continue to give them a hand to ease their pain and struggle, even if it is a bit from each of us, with all of our efforts together, we can make a difference in many lives.

On behalf of people of Myanmar, thank you.

Please check the photos of our visit here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our actions for the month of July 2008

Total donations received as of 31 July 2008: $85,587 (United States: $71,089 Thailand: $9,298 Australia: $5,200)

Purchased and Distribution: Please click here for detailed distribution and areas reached for the month of July 2008.

We have also launched our website http://www.moegyo.org/ on July 31st. Some of the highlights of the web site include:

- donors list;
- project summary;
- our upcoming and past fund raising events.

It has been 3 months since Cyclone hit. There are still many areas which desperately need help. Some of the projects that we are looking into are providing support to orphans – their daily meals, education and basic needs. They require continued effort and commitment from all of us. We are also seeking for monthly donors to support the children on monthly basis. If you wish to contribute monthly, please email us at info@moegyo.org.

Thank you all very much for your generosity and support.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 9th 2008: Moegyo Fundraising at 5th Asian Festival in Reston, VA

On 9 and 10 August 2008, we had fundraising event 5th Asian Festival in Reston, VA.

Objectives:
- To promote MHF and its programs and activities.
- To raise fund and to support our 2nd project with "Raise up Persons with disability's Development Group (RPDG)" in rebuilding 30 homes and repairing 30 shops of disabled families (estimated budget is $13,400)

At the event, MHF and its volunteer from VA, MD and NY sold T-shirts, Tote bags, wristbands, Asian Furniture, Myanmar Art crafts and decorations (donated by friends from MD and VA).

We participated in cultural showcase competition, displaying Myanmar cultures and in cultural dances at Asia Festival, mainly See-Mee-Khwat dance and Thingyan Yain Dance, performed by ZZ from VA. We had about 20 volunteers joined the effort from planning, organizing, advertising, setting up the tent, and transportation of food and supplies.

The success of this event is credited to the team work of all volunteers participated in the efforts towards a common goal i.e. to help fellow Myanmar people back home. Together, we raised $3336.

Many thanks to volunteers for joining the effort! Together, we can make a difference!


Please see our photo here from the event.

Friday, August 8, 2008

August 2nd 2008: Moegyo Fundraising at Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York City

On 2nd and 3rd August 2008, we had fundraising event at Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York City.


Objectives:
- To promote MHF and its programs
- To raise fund and to support our 2nd project with "Raise up Persons with disability's Development Group (RPDG)" in rebuilding 30 homes and repairing 30 shops of disabled families (estimated budget is $13,400)


At the event, MHF and its volunteers sold coconut rice with chicken curry (ohn-hta-min and kyet-thar-hinn), rice noodle with ground chicken in flavored tomato sauce (Shan kwaut swe), banana cake (nga-pyaw-thee paund), coconut jelly (ohn-htee-kyaut-kyaww), soft drinks cans, water bottles and T-shirts. We had over 10 volunteers joined the effort from planning, organizing, advertising, preparing and cooking delicious dishes, setting up the tent, and transportation of food and supplies.

The success of this event is credited to the team work of all volunteers participated in the efforts towards a common goal i.e. to help fellow Myanmar people back home. Together, we raised $4558 and we had connected with each other for a common purpose.
Many thanks to volunteers for joining the effort! Together, we can make a difference!
Please see our photos here from the event.
Upcoming Fundraising event:
We will be participating at the 5th Asian Festival at Reston VA, selling T-shirts, Tote bags, wristbands, Asian Furnitures, Myanmar Art crafts and decorations.
Location: Lake Newport Square ,11452 Baron Cameron Avenue , Reston , VA 20194
Date/Time: Auguest 9 - 10 ( Saturday & Sunday ) 10am - 9pm

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22nd 2008: Report from the field - RPDG group

Rehabilitation Project for Persons with Disabilities and their family

There are many challenges that persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their families face in their daily lives due to lack of awareness, insufficient support and opportunities in the community. These challenges have been multiplied with extreme suffering after the Cyclone Nargis – losing loved ones, housing, mobility aids (wheel-chairs, crutches), and shops, etc. On top of such losses, with limited physical mobility and access to resources, many had fallen into depression.

There are many needs but right now, we are focusing initially on their housing need which was assessed as “living under extreme condition”. During this month, we have supported RPDG group in their effort to rebuild 11 houses for 11 PWD families in Yangon Division (Dhala, Hlaing Tha Yar, Insein, Mayangone, Shwe Pyi Tha Townships). With five small teams, construction was completed with follow up action and final assessment on 17 July. The total cost was $2,300. The project was a success despite many challenges that the teams faced such as heavy rain during construction and relocation of PWDs on muddy roads.


Outcome

Attached photos showed before and after rebuilding of the huts. Please check our photo gallery for more photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/moegyo2008/RPDG































The project has helped a great deal to eleven PWDs families.
- Improved their living condition with a proper housing during rainy season
- Helped reduced their worries and stress for their housing for at least 2 years


In addition to above obvious positive outcomes, many benefits have also been realized:
- Raised public awareness on disabled people in the community through the group effort and accomplishment of this project;
- Discovered more disabled people in the community so that they can be referred to the respective organizations for their rehabilitation and vocational training;
- Found out more on the needs of disabled people for future projects.

Appreciation

The PWDs and their families were very happy and thankful for their new homes. We would like to share their happiness with all of you. We sincerely thank our local group RPDG and our donors for the opportunity to help.

Thank you for your continued support!

In Yangon area alone, there are at least 250 disabled people (out of 550 PWDs in Yangon area-RPDG’s data) living under extreme conditions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 9th 2008: Filling in the Blank, Part 2 Group1 - MSNA

With regards to our 3 July 2008 post, we now have an assessment from the field on the distribution of school supplies based on the visit to 12 villages in Daydaye Township.


Though more text books have arrived, not all students can hold their own text books yet. Following is a student list from 12 villages with the suggested number of text books to donate. According to the number of students, we need 8-10 sets per village.

School Books:
Grade 1 (used to be Kg): 387 students - 100 sets
Grade 2 (used to be pa-hta-ma tan): 281 students - 100 sets
Grade 3: 267 students - 100 sets
Grade 4: 251 students - 100 sets
Grade 5: 586 students - 100 sets
Grade 6: 168 students - 50 sets
Grade 7: 148 students - 50 sets
Grade 8: 148 students - 50 sets
Grade 9: 164 students - 50 sets
Grade 10: 97 students - 40 sets
Grade 11: 85 students
Total text books: 2,599 students - total 740 sets (this would cost between USD 850- 900)
3 exercise books per student: $850
Total: $1,750

Supplies for orphans
We also have a list of orphans (students) from Kyun Pin village, Daydaye Township. They all live together with their relatives. Attached two photos show the orphans with their teachers.
Grade 1: 5 students (5 boys; 4 without parents, one without father)
Grade 2: 8 students (5 boys, 3 girls; 3 without parents, 3 without father, 2 without mother)
Grade 3: 3 students (2 boys, 1 girl; 2 without parents, 1 without father)
Grade 7: 2 students (2 boys; 1 without mother, 1 without parents)

Some of the orphans report that they do not have uniforms, umbrellas, slippers, text books (complete set or partially). Most of the orphans' current guardians are daily miscellaneous workers. Can we look into providing what these orphans need? One set of uniform is around 2,500 Ks; one umbrella about 3,000 Ks; one pair of rubber slipper is around 1,500 Ks, text book is around 1,300 Ks. We can provide them some toys, coloring books for the grade 1 students and other necessary items that these kids can have on their own. The total cost to provide such items per kid will be about 10,000 Ks. We can spend around US$200 to provide what these kids need and to provide a few things that will ease their suffering a little bit.

Bridge
There is also a need to repair a small bridge between two villages (Shan Kan village where the high school is and Taw Paung Sein Village). Many students pass by this unsafe bridge everyday (the photo is coming soon). The previous estimated quotation for rebuilding the bridge is between 2,000,000 Ks - 2,500,000 Ks. No donor has come up for this project yet. UKMG has thought of ways to cut down some costs, and thinks the bridge can be repaired if he could bring 2 or 3 donors like us together as a joint effort. We can decide on this when we see the photo of the bridge.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 8th: Report from the field - Helping Hands 4 New Generation Group (Bogalay Township)

As part of our rebuilding program, we are working with Helping Hands 4 New Generation for rebuilding communities. We are building 450 huts for 1900 people in two villages in Bogalay Township, both reachable by 1 and half hour boat ride from Bogalay in delta region. While the death toll in these two villages are little, the houses and all possesions were lost during the cyclone.

We are helping the residents of the villages as follows:
1. Donating rain shelter sheets (450 sheets) and helping them build the huts together with the villagers' efforts.
2. Donating necessary house building tools such as nails, pliers, hammers, copper cables.

3. Providing household items that are useful in any home: mat, blanket, pots for all 450 households
4. Providing food items: rice, gram beans for all 450 households





Challenges that villagers face:

Mosquito:
Some concerned parents share their worries with us about the mosquito situation in the villages. A tropical country like Myanmar is no stranger to mosquitoes and their stinging bites. But after the cyclone, amount of mosquitoes present in the villages are high due to rotten trees and mud holes around the villages and in the river banks. While the mobile medical teams and some NGOs have arrived to these villages and sprayed some insecticides, the mosquitoes have returned back and parents are worried about their children. When we were in the villages, there were no reports about dengue fever yet. To protect the children, we need mosquito nets that are treated with repellent liquids, and other insecticides.

Transportation:
Another difficulty the villagers are facing, in addition to other major challenges such as making their livelihoods, is lack of boats. Delta region has numerous rivers, creeks, and streams. In pre-Nargis days, a well to do family would own a motorized boat, a normal family would own a rowing boat, it is normal that most families had boats. Without a boat in delta region, their communication with a nearby town is quite difficult. This lack of boats was the reason why some people in the remote area had to suffer without any proper food for longer period than other people. A boat can cost from US$ 75 (normal rowing boat), US$ 150 to US$ 1,300 depending on their size, engine power, and type of wood used. We will not be able to provide the boats for the families now, but let's just keep this in our mind that there is such challenge exists that we have to tackle when the time is right.

More detail report will follow again when the huts are completed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6th 2008: Summary of our actions as of 30 June 2008

Total amount of raised as of 30 June 2008: $78, 532
(United States: $64,924, Thailand: $9,298, Australia: $4,310)
Purchased and Distribution: Please click here for detailed distribution and areas reached.
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pbhsxuBa5dCmM_f0Bfux1bQ&hl=en

Please also find the summary of our three programs below from 8 May to end of June 2008:

Program 1: Distributing Emergency Aid

What we have been distributing since 8 May during the first week of Cyclone:
Water: Water purification tablets
Food: Rice, onions, beans, potatoes, salt, eggs, canned fish, fish paste, dry tea leaf, milk powders, ovaltine
Medicine: Burmese medicine, Tylenol, Imodium, Clotrimazole Cream and Foot powder (for Skin)ORS- Electrolyte, Royal D, Ranidine, ORS Amoxy, Paracetamol, Urinox, Pabron, Hiscolgen, Gynegyl, Bromhexine
Others: Men, women and children clothing, rain coats, rain boots, life jacketsTowels, blankets, mosquito nets, torch lights with batteries, rain cover sheets, plastic sheets
House building tools to the families, pots and pans, glasses and cups, detergent, candles

Areas reached: more than thouand one families
Yangon Division: Hlaing Thar Yar, Dala, TharKayTha, South and North Dagon, Shwe Pyi Thar,Than Lwin Town, Kyauk Tan City Payarkone village; Shwe Pauk Kan, Insein, Dagon Myo Thit
Pegu Division: Thone kwa village and near by villages
Irrawady Division: Delta area : Bogalay, Twantay, Laputta, Pathein, Dedaye, Phar Pone
Some of the areas visited in Twante: Mya Kan Thar Village (306 families), Aung Zedi Village (76 families) and near by villages
Some of the areas visited in Bogalay:
-Villages near Bogalay township - 250 families;
-6 hours boat ride from Bogalay: Kyein Chaung Gyi village and near by villages
-3-4 hours boat ride from Bogalay: 408 families:
-- Bote Chaung Village – 104 families
-- Ma Aye Kyi Village – 71 families
-- Kone Tan Pauk Village – 47 families
-- Byu Ya-gone Village – 32 families
-- Tha-pyay Nyo Tan Village – 53 families
-- La Waing Kyun Village – 101 families

Program 2: Rebuilding communities

(a) Budget Hut Buidling Group (NLS group)
- Completed 25 budget huts for 88 people: Shwe Kyun Thar Kyaung Su Village in Kokko Kyae-Ywa Su in Lat-put-ta Township
(b) Helping Hands
Current project: Package aid for 450 huts for 1900 people in villages nearby Bogalay
Package: - Roof (villagers have already started with their base, only provide roof sheets which will be reused for water tanks.), mat, blanket, dan-oh (pot), rice, kalah beans
Total per hut = around $35

Program 3: Helping families and children
Distribute school supplies, books, pencils, erasers, rulers, clothing and snacks
Thank you very much for your generosity and support. Together, we can make a difference.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 3rd 2008: Filling in the Blanks - Group1 MSNA

There are rehabilitation programs being carried out by various parties including some heavy-weight companies in all parts of delta region. The farmers are being helped with buffaloes or plowing machines, seeds and manpower. Yet, there are always some pocketed areas where help could not reach as fast as it should. All of us can try filling in these blanks and help others do this as well.

That said, it was reported that in 10 villages visited in Day-da-ye area, there are 6 primary school (Grade 1 to 5), 3 extended primary schools (Grade 1 to 8), and 1 high school (Grade 1 to 11). Total number of students in all these schools is around 2,000. Some are still coming in to register in the schools at a later date, so the number still fluctuates.


All these school buildings had collapsed during the cyclone except the buildings from the high school. All the students studying in primary schools are in the shelter of monasteries in the villages. As schools have started, some text books have arrived to the high school, but most of these text books got wet and were destroyed. Other primary schools have not received any text books yet. You will see in the pictures: the teacher uses a game board as a blackboard; some students are in a shelter house (za-yat) without any walls; and some are studying on the concrete floors.
(Photos credited to UKMG.)

We will have an assessment report on the number of students in each grade by next week. One set of text book costs between 1,000 Ks per set to 1,500 Ks depending on the grade. Let's try filling in the blanks.

Monday, June 30, 2008

June 28th 2008: Moegyo Fundraising Food Bazaar in New York City

Last weekend, we held a fundraising food bazaar in New York
City.

Objectives of this event were:

- to promote the work of Moegyo
- to promote team work, strengthen the relationship among volunteers and join the efforts of all working towards a common goal i.e to help fellow Myanmar people back home
- to raise fund and support the current project - working with Helping Hands Group - on providing roofs and package of goods (rice, kalah beans, mat, blanket, dan-oh/pot) to 450 households/huts (1900 people) in villages near Bogalay. Each package is estimated at $40.

There were more than 30 Burmese home-made dishes and desserts donated by individual donors and chefs. Over 70 volunteers had joined this effort from planning, organizing, advertising, preparing delicious dishes, setting up the halls and exhibitions, helping at the booths to finally cleaning up.

The success of this event is credited to the team work of all volunteers, donors and supporters (visitors). Together, we raised $8,100 and we had connected with each other for a common purpose.

Many thanks to volunteers, donors and supporters (visitors) for joining the effort! Together, we can make a difference!

Links:
- Please see our menu, donors and volunteers list here. Please forgive us and let us know if we miss any names in the list.
- One of the guests wrote about the Food Bazaar at his blog. He also posted photos there.

Friday, June 27, 2008

UN OCHA/IRIN News: MYANMAR: “Lightning” strike brings help to cyclone survivors

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), a leading provider of multimedia humanitarian news and analysis, wrote an article on Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2008 (IRIN) - “Moegyo stands for thunder and lightning. Our humanitarian foundation responded to Cyclone Nargis with the speed of lightning,” said Maung Thant (not his real name), a Burmese national living and working in Bangkok, who does not want to be identified. He is one of 20 Burmese members of the Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation, most based in New York City, with three in Bangkok.

Moegyo is a kind of fast-reaction assistance force, although small of scale. At the time of the December 2004 tsunami, it helped Burmese refugees injured in Phuket in southern Thailand.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25th 2008: Report from the field - Group1 MSNA (Bogalay trip)

No more sad stories! I told myself this, as I sat down to start my field trip report on Monday. Every time we go on field trips, we hear personal stories that are heart breaking. I thought, this time, I will not write about them because sharing sad stories are not the same as sharing happy stories. Besides, people must have heard these stories a thousand times already.

What has happened to me since I came back was I could not shake some of these people out of my head; their dark sunburn faces, their words, and their sad stories followed me everywhere. I don't want to forget about them, but I needed something to get me out of this sorrow. I have to get on with my daily life in Yangon, I have to focus and collect more information so I can again organize another trip to Bogalay in the coming days. I just needed something to make me to move on.

Last night, I was still thinking about them when I suddenly realized that writing about these people is exactly what I needed to do if I need to move on. The interesting thing is this answer came from the survivors I had talked to. I understand now that they were, too, trying to move on when they told me about their beloved families who lost their lives during the cyclone, their pain and suffering, and the present challenges they face alone without their families.

As for me, writing about these survivors will mean understanding their pain, acknowledging their loss, and showing them we care. I hope I had helped them in their healing process even if in small ways.

On the evening of May 2, when the water level was coming up so fast and so high in the village, Mr. H.A and his wife decided that the wife and their 3 daughters will seek the shelter in the long-tail boat along with other villagers. H.A. watched them leave, and stayed back. He later climbed up to the highest part in their compound where they build the rice storage container and held on tight to the wooden beam. The wind and the 15 feet waves pouring in later on that night, sweeping everything that he was holding onto. He then spent another seemingly eternity time floating in the dark, holding on a tree and shivering from cold. He remembered thinking at least his family will be safe. Unfortunately, he was wrong. He later had to accept that the boat might have broken out and let loose all of its passengers, mainly small children and women, into the water, in the pitch dark. He did not recover any of his family members.

H.A. is now residing back in his village which is about 2 hour boat ride away from Bogalay. He lives with two nephews. His family, his sister, his brother and their extended families are all gone. These three men are trying to start over. They want to work. They have worked hard all their lives anyway. H.A. owns about 20 acres of rice plantation. He is not a poor person at all. But after the cyclone Nargis, everybody in delta is starting from bottom line again. H.A. said sometimes he finds little motivation to work; previously, he has worked hard with some greed to earn a lot of money; to let his daughters to attend school; and to buy his wife some new accessories here and there. Now, he has to find a reason to work other than paying back for the loan that he made to borrow a pair of buffaloes. If he hurries, he will make it in time to produce enough seeds for next season and pay back for the buffaloes.

Mr. N.T. lived about 3 hour boat ride from Bogalay. On that fateful night, when the rising water level reached above their knees, it was already difficult enough to walk or to stand still as the current was very strong. When the water level reached their waist, the whole family of seven scattered into the night. He could hold onto the youngest son, 6 years old, throughout the night. From time to time, in the wind, he called out to his son to make sure that the kid knows he was there. The last word he heard from the boy were that he was afraid. Sometime in the night, N.T. realized that his son has died. But he did not have the heart to let him go, so, he hold onto him and held on an empty plastic fuel container and float in the water. In the daylight the next morning, he buried his son on an island that he ended up on. He was there for 2 days, eating coconut flesh and drinking coconut juice.

He lived in this delta area all of his life, but nothing he saw on the sight was recognizable. He could only guess he must be very close to the sea. Upon his return back to town on a rescue boat, he reunited with his 14 year old daughter and later on with another son. The rest of the family was never discovered.

N.T. now resides in Bogalay with his children. He does not see any reason to go back to the village since his family and all he owned is gone. He has spent his life working in rice plantation. But in town, he may have to change his profession. He is tempting his hobby at building to turn it into a job. He will work at it. During the trip, we stopped by at his village, donated the goods. As we departed the village, our volunteer group, who have listened to his personal story, were silent. We somehow felt what it must have been like. N.T. just stared into the distant and did not say a word.


During this trip, we went to the villages that are around 3-4 hour boat ride away from Bogalay. We have visited 6 villages and reached 408 families. We have provided rice, salt, fish paste, canned fish, children's snacks, dry tea leaf and Burmese medicines to all families; and torch lights with batteries, towels, clothing, mosquito nets, blankets, school materials, rain cover sheets and house building tools to the families that needed them.

The villages we visited include:
1. Bote Chaung Village – 104 families
2. Ma Aye Kyi Village – 71 families
3. Kone Tan Pauk Village – 47 families
4. Byu Ya-gone Village – 32 families
5. Tha-pyay Nyo Tan Village – 53 families
6. La Waing Kyun Village – 101 families

We had intended to distribute the school materials and planned to set aside time for the children on this trip. We were a little bit surprised to see that there were not so many kids in the villages that we visited (compare to other parts of the country). We found out that some children passed away, some relocated, some sent to town for studying and etc. The local volunteer group has collected the numbers that approximate 400 students in two primary schools in Bogalay were in need of text books, school materials and uniforms. Some of those students came from the villages as the schools in the villages were not ready. We gave all the school materials to the volunteers as we have no time to do this ourselves in Bogalay. We will report back to you with the photos of these school children in Bogalay. To the village kids, we continued distributing stuff toys, jigsaw puzzles, and story books.

Due to long distant, tides, and upstream travel on both ways, we could spend only 30-45 minutes in each village. The rest of the total 13 hour boat ride was spent on the boat. The long distant also meant that we have reached to the small villages that needed some assistant. We were so glad to see one mobile medical team on the boat traveling to different villages.

Bogalay and delta region were the main producers of high quality rice for the whole country before. We are sure this fertile land will get back to its original productive state again in the future. And the farmers will be well-off again when that happens. However, before we reach that stage, the farmers and the families working on farms will need our help in many ways. While some are weak and dependent on aids, most of them are strong, and independent. And these survivors WILL find ways to survive with or without our help. But when the magnitude of loss and sufferings is this high, let's not watch them struggle, let's offer our hands to help them get back on their feet; let's offer our ears to listen to what they have to say to us; let's open our hearts to them.

Together, we will all be able to move on…

Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 20th 2008: Suggestions - rehabilitation on farming

We had a chance to speak to a chief monk who is residing in Yangon. His assistant monk was born in one of the villages near Bogalay. This monastery has been collecting donation and kinds from their contacts and have made frequent trips to the villages around Bogalay and Haing-Gyi-Kyun area. They have been donating/distributing rice bags, and other food items, clothings and school materials. And from time to time, they would chant prayers (pa-reik) and offer some soothing words in the villages.

The monk's birth place village has luckily gone through the cyclone without a single death. But most villagers' possession and huts/houses were swept away during the event. The villagers now have a roof above their head, so their priority is to get back to work as soon as possible. The monk has made a right remark saying that when the villagers are given the opportunity to work in the field, it is for the long term. It will offer a stability to their income and their livelihood.

There are a few ways one can involve in making this happen: by arranging for them to buy seeds (for growing rice), by buying them plowing machines (partially mechanical, each one cost about 1,600,000 Ks.) and by buying them necessary fuel for the plowing machines. While this is an important part about the rehabilitation phase, one has to be sure we buy the correct species of the seeds, the correct type of machines, etc. One will also have to show the villagers how the plowing machine works. This program involves a lot of technical expertise and time to do this, but the benefits make such a good impact on the families.

Hope all of us can share and look into the possibilities.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 17th 2008: Report from the field - Group1 MSNA (Bogalay)

Report from Group 1B: Operation Nargis

The group arrived back in Yangon around 2 in the early this morning.

The trip to Bogalay was one of the best trips we have ever made these days, I would say it was pretty risky but it was worth the effort. We have made to Kyein Chaung Gyi village tract, a comparable distance to Main-ma-hla Kyun, 6-hours drive by boat from Bogalay, despite severe weather condition (i.e. 45-50 mph wind condition with heavy rain - weather forecasted by Myanma Weather Station) and we have covered several villages in the area.

Thanks for all the concern. The trip was a successful one!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 16th 2008: Report from the field - Group1 MSNA

Group 1A:
They have carried 25 mosquito nets from us. Have distributed them in a village near Bogalay and one village near Kun-chan-gone Township. Other stuff they donated from other donors include 3 plowing machines, cash donation for fuel, saw, hammers, Burmese medicines (villagers find them more useful as they are not too familiar with foreign medicines) and some school materials. Their next trip is planned to Lat-put-ta and nearby villages, traveling starts on 22 June.

Group 1B: Operation Nargis
Group is on a trip to Bogalay and nearby villages. They are carrying mosquito nets, blankets and fish cans for 250 families in the area. For all of yesterday and today, my mind is with this group and I have been saying prayers for them. There is a storm passing through the same area that they are going. The forecast says that the wind is about 50 miles/hour. And Yangon has been raining too most of the days without a drop of any sunshine. Our group is aware of the coming storm and high tides. They will be wearing life jackets, so I am sure they are safe and have taken any necessary precautions to travel through these rivers and in between the villages. But I will be able to rest when I check in with them again tomorrow morning. Will keep you updated on this.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 13th 2008: Report from the field - Budget Hut Building Group

It has been some tough weeks for our Budget Hut Building Group (NLS group). This volunteer group is emotionally strong and committed. They have the will to go on as long as there is funding available to them. But let's face it, these guys have been staying in Latputta for weeks. They have not eaten proper meal for days. And one attack they are facing is from mosquitoes. They are a bit tired, and they need some medicines to take care of the mosquito bites on their legs and arms. They have tried using mosquito repellent, but nothing works so far. We have to do something to take care of our volunteers working in the front lines.

We have chosen a site for building budget huts under MHF funding. The village is under the administration of Latputta Township. It can take about 7-8 hours to reach Latputta. From Laputta, you can continue the trip by boat. Each way takes about 2 and a half hours.

This village has about 200 people left after the cyclone. We have taken the available family listings and calculated that about 25 huts are needed to house the people without any place to live. These 25 huts will be safe accommodation for some 88 people when all the huts are completed. Among 25 huts, some will be occupied by whole families, some are to be occupied by survivors from different families.

With funding from MHF, we have bought nails, ropes, wooden planks, saw, staple gun, hummer, and tarpaulin sheets for roofing. And the villagers build the huts together. The targeted 25 huts are about to be finished. But June and July are the busy periods for people who live around here. Their routine livelihood is still important to carry on under these circumstances.
So, the villagers have been both working in the field and building the huts for themselves and the neighbors around them.

We will try to update with the recent photos as soon as we have them taken.

Challenges ahead:

- The cost will go up because the supply of wood is getting scarce in the village. In Latputta, normal hard woods are not available anymore. Either you buy better quality hard wood or import from another town with high transportation cost.

- We need to find ways to support the villagers and volunteers with their daily routine and living while they work on the huts.

- Mosquitoes have serious impact on health. It is going to be a long term battle to get to the root causes. Meanwhile, we will try sending different brands of mosquito repellent sprays. Any suggestions are welcomed.

- There are plenty of migrations going on among the villages and there are many requests by the villagers to NLS group to help them build a home. NLS group has the will to carry on as long as there is funding. They need continue support from all of us.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 11th 2008: Report from the field - rebuilding aid (Kyank Tan Area)

Based on our previous reports, we went back to Nyaung Waing village in Kyank Tan Area and donated US$100 each to four families identified as the poorest in the village. The families were struggling to survive and unable to rebuild their homes after the Cyclone.





Brief descriptions of four families:

Family 1
Old widow with one son: Bamboo and woods were still piling on the ground as they could not afford to rebuild the home.



Family 2

A family with 6 young children: They depend on ad-hoc jobs for their living. Their home, a small bamboo hut lost the back wall and back roof during the Cyclone. As they could not afford to rebuild their home, they replaced the wall and roof temporarily with some blankets.

Family 3
A widow with two young sons: She lost her husband during the Cyclone. They make their living by delivering water. They live in a very small bamboo hut that is temporally mended by bamboo sticks and strings. The widow cried with joy when she received our donations.

Family 4
A family also with 6 very young children: Their youngest child is about a year old. They were living in a temporarily built 7x7 feet bamboo hut that seemed to be falling apart. They depend on ad-hoc jobs for their living.

They were crying as they explained their dilemma and expressed their sincere appreciation to all of us and said that they will always be praying for all of us and all the donors.

There are still about 46 families struggling to survive in the area who need support in rebuilding their lives.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10th 2008: Fund raising at Maryland

Last weekend, there was a fundraising at a monastery in Maryland for Myanmar relief. MOEGYO volunteers in the DC Metro area had participated in this fare and helped promote the work of MOEGYO and raise fund with T-shirts, wrist bands, tote bags and burmese snacks. Some of us from NY also joined the effort. We sincerely appreciated our local group for their commitment and hard work especially under that heat wave. Thank you very much Ko TT, Zu Zu, Ma Pann and her mom, Richard, Ko Bo, Phowa, Ma Joe Phyu, Ko Thu Rein and everyone helping at the booth!

There will also be another fare at Aung Yadana Monastery in Maryland this Sunday. Our local group plan to be there as well.

Thank you all donors and supporters for joining the relief effort. Together we can make a difference!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June 4th 2008: Report form the field - Assessment from Thanlyin-Kyaut Tan area


May 31st trip

- After checking emails, headed toward Thanlyin-Kyaut Tan for a quick tour

-Left Yangon quite late and had to catch the flight in the evening.

- So, decided to drive through the main road, where saw some cars from Save the Children went into off-main road.

- At one monastery (badly damaged), saw some people/crowd and decided to stop-over and check.

-There were about 150 Nyaung Wine villagers (Kyaut Tan township) and some donors distributing food and clothes.

-Asked villagers of their needs and as usual they replied that they are quite OK in terms of food, clothes and shelter(I doubt though), but they want someone to assist rebuilding of their neighbors' houses (about 4 of them). That truly shows the selfless nature of our people.

- Each house will cost about 100,000 kyats.

- Kyaut Tan-Ye Le Pagoda area was pretty quiet with only a few visitors. Some people there said the monasteries need donations.

- Due to time-pressure, had to head back to Yangon. Wish had more time to visit the villages.

June 4th 2008: Report from the field - ODG-Group3

Our group, 45 of us woke up at 3am on 1.6.08 and started the trip to Ayeyarwadi division.

We went to 4 villages in Phar Pone Township.
We divided ourselves into 2 groups and each group visited 2 villages.
We gave out the following things to the villagers:
1) Male longy - 50 pcs
2) Female clothing- 127 pcs
3) Clothes Bag - 3 bags
4) Clothes Box - 4 boxs
5) Medicine bag - 2 bags
6) Coffee Mix - 2 pcs
We came back to Yangon at 1:30am the next day 2.6.08.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 3rd 2008: How can we help children cope with the trauma?


We would like to focus mainly on providing with school materials for the kids. There is still time because school starting dates are postponed for the effected areas. The adults are going to adjust to the recent changes in their lives. The kids are also going to. But without the right channel and care, their adjustment can be harsh and painful for their minds. So, in addition to helping them with obvious material needs such as school materials, building schools and huts/houses etc, there must be some further care we can offer to them. Are there any illustrated educational books to console them from what they are going through in real life? These children have to live in very bad health environment and most them were traumatized by the situation.

Can we produce posters, booklets that the kids rely on, that they can learn from? Anything? UNICEF produces very informative posters for the schools here (info on washing hands, eating hot foods, using proper toilets etc). Please send us any suggestion.

June 3rd 2008: Report from the field - Group1-MSNA



MSNA group went to Twante area on 31 May 2008. The villages we went to are called Mya Kan Thar Village (306 families) and Aung Zedi Village (76 families). And in Dala Township, the village we visited is called Da-note village. We had rice, onions, eggs, fish cans, salt as food items and books, pencils, rulers, erasers, rain coats and clothings from Moegyo. Other donors also donated for uniforms, and shoulder bags for school children.

Twante itself did not have much damages. Like in delta area, the small villages surrounding the town are hardest hit when the storm surge swept the villages. The death toll is relatively low in this area and many houses still standing. But aftermath of cyclone Nargis here is as dreadful as everywhere else.

The villagers' lives evolve around farming (people are either farmers or helpers to the farmers), and fishing cottage industry. Because the rice farming season is halted, jobs are scarce in the villages. Some villagers made attempt at being day laborers in the construction sites in nearby towns, but only a few are continuing their construction projects.


When we get to the village, the villagers, mostly women, quickly lined up near a little shelter where we placed our rice bags and other donated items. No one wants to be late for lining up. Getting a portion of rice and other food items mean a meal for the family while the men go out there to look for jobs. Among the pushing, rice rationing, the heat and all other bouts of such event, we were thankful to be there to help them. When you know you have helped a family, or many families, there is a chilling happiness that ran through you? We had that. And we like to share this feeling and many heartful thanks that we have received all throughout the day to all parties involved in Moegyo and many donors behind them.


(I like to take this opportunity to thank Ei-sa-tha-ya Shop for their good hearts in donating their boats for any volunteer groups coming to Twante area. For any volunteer group going into these villages, they can contact Ei-sa-tha-ya who will arrange the boat, who could also come with you to help contact the villages. They were a big help and made our trip successful.)


Schools started today in Myanmar, June 2nd. On my way back to office this afternoon in Yangon, I passed through one high school. Since today is a first day in school, parents were there to drop off the children in their cars; school children with nice school dresses were smiling and glad to be with friends and to be back in school again. Seeing school children in white and green school uniforms is always a pretty scene to me. But today, I could not enjoy the pretty scene because my mind was racing back to the villages. I was thinking about those little kids I have just met in the weekend.

Back in Mya Kan Thar village, I had talked to some kids in the village, about 5 - 6 years old. They knew that they were going back to school on Monday and were happy about that. One kid told me he was in first grade. He already had a text book and an excercise book for the school. He seemed confident. Another girl next to him, eventhough her mommy had not bought her any excercise book yet, she was also looking forward to the school days. She wanted to practice her writing. That afternoon, we handed the children a white and green school dress uniform, an excercise book, a ruler, an eraser and a shoulder bag. All schools in the villages we went on that day collapsed during the cyclone. And as always, monasteries are there to give shelter to the children, and ready for becoming a temporary school for the coming months. So, today on June 2nd, the kids from the villages will be attending school in a make-shift classrooms in the monasteries; they will be practicing their writing with the books that MHF has arranged for them. That is a happy thought for the day!

One month ago today in the afternoon, we learned about a cyclone approaching towards Yangon and delta region. On that day, none of my family members or friends knew how terrifying Nargis would become. We only knew there would be a storm and one has to be in the shelter to be 'safe'. We all had plans to carry on with our routine on the next day: to be back in the office (we work half day on Saturdays here), may be do some shopping, or get together with friends and just hang out. We didn't know that one evening will change our lives, and the following days after that...


During the past 4 weeks, we have heard many heart-breaking stories, seen many devastation, and shared the sorrow with the victims. What touches me the most is to see the victims' strength and courage to overcome this difficult moments, and the strong will to move onto the next phase - to continue building their lives and communities around them.


With the help from you, from everyone of us, we can help them do just that...

Donated:
1. Mya Kan Thar village, Twante (306 families):
- 12 rice bags, 1 onion bag, small bags of salt, 500 eggs, fish cans
- to the school children - books, pencils, erasers, rulers, (school uniforms and shoulder bags are from account of another donor)
- clothes for children - from NLO (from Brazilian family)

2. Aung Zedi Village, Twante (76 families). We were running out of time, so we donated things through village leader in front of all villagers.
- 2 rice bags, 1 onion bag, 1 potato bag, 500 eggs, salt

3. Da-note village, Dala (over 2,000 people). The families were living under the monastery until a few days ago. Now they all went back to their homes, the chief monk tried to organize building and putting roof over the huts for 80 something poor families. He is obviously relieved and happy to see that we have brought books, and etc for the school children. There will be about 350 kids who will come under his monastery roof for schooling. We got here late, so we offered the donated items to him, he took note of everything and will distribute them equally.
- 1 rice bag, 1 onion bag, 2 potato bag, 500 eggs, fish cans
- books, pencils, erasers, rulers, rain coats
- some clothing
- some pots and pans, some glasses and cups for the families
- milk powders
- medical creams and foot powder
- 1 box of tylenol

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May 31st 2008: Our actions for the month of May

Total donations received as of 31 May 2008: $50,194
(United States: $36,946 Thailand: $9,298 Australia: $3,950)

Purchased and Distribution:
Please click here for detailed distribution and areas reached for the month of May 2008.

Thank you all very much for your generosity and support. Together, we can make a difference.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31st 2008: Report from the field

It has been a roller coaster week with a lot of mix emotions, but I hope you would all agree that we have done our best to provide emergency food aid to Myanmar cyclone victims in the past four desperate weeks. In addition to (1) distributing emergency aid, in the coming weeks we will be expanding our operations into (2) rebuilding (building budget huts) and (3) restoring lives (helping families and children)

1. Distributing aid

We are continuing with our emergency aid operation, and we still need all the help we can get. We will continue to collect food, clothes and medicine and ship all the collected supplies to Myanmar. We collected a lot of clothes, shoes and medicine from Bangkok donors (SVC Asia Co., Ltd, UNESCAP families, Bangkok Brazilian Community) and made two shipments to Yangon last week.

2. Rebuilding (building budget huts)

After talking to numerous victims by our volunteers, most of the victims want to rebuild their lives. But houses being wiped out, crop and boats destroyed, equipments lost, it is hard to get back to their lives. We URGENTLY need to rebuild the houses in order for them to return to their farms. For the current and following year, they must start the harvesting cycle now.

We decided to first focus on a village, which had lost about 400 people and now left with about 100 survivors. This village is only accessible by boat, and one of the worst hit areas about 5 hours by boat from Latt Putta. There are about 30-40 women and some children who have been displaced and staying in Lattbutta area while the men will get back to the village to rebuild their houses. The houses will be built using Bamboo for the frame and Da-Neet or Tarpaulin for the roof. All the men agreed to stay at the village until they are comfortable to bring their families home.

Each hut is about 20 x 15 feet with attached kitchen and good for 12 people. Cost of each hut is about US $170. We allocated US $ 4000 yesterday for Group 4 (hut building group) to rebuild the huts. At the moment Group 4 is arranging supplies from near by towns. Getting there alone is quite an adventure and takes about one day because they have to watch the tide condition.

3. Restoring lives (helping the families and children)

The cyclone destroyed a lot of roads, bridges and houses but most of all - families. A lot of children are left orphans and their fates uncertain. We will need to help these families especially those with young children. Sometimes, for some families the situation is life and death and for some is to get back to their status quo. In any case we will try and help them restore their lives.

For the children that lost their parents, we’ve learned that it is best for the children to be cared by their relatives other than the orphanage. With this in mind, we will try to help the families and vulnerable children buy providing with their day to day essential needs.

From various sources, we have learned that there are about 3000-5000 orphans left behind by this cyclone. We can’t confirm this large numbers but we know a few places where there are about 200-300 kids. Not every one has a relative or village to go back to so they must be placed under good care. We must support the orphanages or build one to protect our vulnerable children.

Every dollar, every minutes count and together we can make a difference. We hope you would all agree and support any one of our plans. All suggestions and comments are most welcome. Please also see our action at "Donation and Distribution Report".

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30th 2008: Report from the field - Budget Hut Building Group

Hut Building Group has gone to Labutta, and they have just called in and informed us that they have started the building process at a small village, only reachable by boat, near Labutta. They are the first aid group to arrive in the area. Naturally, the villagers are so happy to see aid relief finally arriving. They said, no one has been there before. The group has already started rebuilding this village.

The villagers there have already begun building huts with whatever supplies and materials they had. The unfinished huts are small, for single families. So, the cost of these small huts are not the same as in the original plan - which called for large multi-family huts. And for this village, since the huts are half-finished, the group only needed to supply them with materials that the villagers could not get on their own. Approximately $1600 will be needed to procure those materials. This will cover 32 small huts for 100 people. MOEGYO has funded this with your donations.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27th 2008: Report from the Field on current situation in Myanmar (Burma)

Some cars were stopped yesterday evening and they were eventually let go after their wheel tags were registered. Recently, there have been some cars distributing some flyers to the by-standers on the road. I don't know how effective passing out those flyers were, but now donations are being frowned upon, again... So, some people who plan to go out today cancelled their trip. Everyone is waiting to see what is the real situation.

May 27th 2008: Budget Huts Plan

"The following is the translation of the latest blog entry from Nyi Lynn Seck titled "Budget Huts Plan". NLS has agreed to post it on MOEGYO blog. It's a good recount of an aid worker's experience and his on-ground thinking. The original blog entry is at http://nyilynnseck.blogspot.com/2008/05/budjet-hut-plan.html. MOEGYO is contributing funds for this plan. "


Budget Huts Plan:

From now on, we plan to build affordable huts for survivors of the cyclone, rather than giving them food and clothes. When we ask them what they need most, they tell us that they most urgently need housing and want to return to their farms.Out of a population of 500, one village has only 100 survivors left. About 30-40 are women. Most of the female survivors we met, don't want to return to the disaster areas yet, the place of their grief. Most of the men want to return even if authorities forbid them.

There are 2 kinds of cyclone victims - those who have reached the city and others who have not bothered to make it to the city. Everyone you meet in the cities aren't victims and every victim is not yet in the cities.We meet the real suffering victims upon travelling to the villages. Some villages have received aid from planes but it is not enough. Some villages are still not accessible due to the road conditions. These victims grew up and made their living on the rivers and lakes, therefore they don't seem overly worried about food. So long as there are rivers, finding fish and shrimps are not difficult. They are mostly worried about not being able to return to farming. They have to remove the salt water from the farmlands which were overswept by the rising tides. They then have to plow the soil. To do all that work, they first need a place to stay with a roof over their heads.

Obstacles
Building a house had its own obstacles.

- One was transportation. Some seaside villages require about five hours to get to by normal boats. Since many boats drowned during the cyclone, there are not enough boats to go around. It would be costly to permanently rent a boat. The first village that we built huts for - had a boat fortunately, and we only had to pay for fuel.

- Second obstacle was getting bamboo. The cyclone devastated many bamboo forests. Therefore, bamboo was hard to find. The distance of bamboo (from the village) would bring up the cost. The reason for choosing bamboo over wood will be explained later.

- Third obstacle was general use items. These are now very expensive in affected areas, so we are having to transport them from Yangon.

Group housing

The huts we built are not for single family use. Our discussions with the survivors tell us that they do not want to move whole families back to the village. Their plan is for the men to return first, a village's men will form and work together on a community farmland of 10-15 acres (they used to work on hundreds of acres on their own before), and they will continue to expand and grown on this year's crop. I look at them and I get goosebumps. Even in such disaster, they are forming long-term plans, why can't we plan long-term too? So, we discussed with them and they told us that they want to live together in group-houses, not one-family-one-house yet.
They won't live in these group-houses forever. But about 3 years for sure. After that, they will try to build separate houses. We therefore agreed upon building affordable huts for 2-3 year living.

Our budget huts are 20 x 15 feet. A kitchen of about 6x6 feet is attached. Hut will be built using bamboo. Tarpaulin <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarpaulin> will be used for roofs and covers.

Why da-neet?
Some are asking why "da-neet" is not used.
- The reason is simple, many houses in these areas had their roofs redone with new batches of da-neet for the upcoming monsoon season - just before the cyclone hit. Thus, da-neet leaves that are growing now are fresh and still not hard enough to use for housing.

- Second reason is lots of women who used to make living as da-neet weavers have perished in the disaster, thus there's nobody to weave da-neet. So, tarpaulin - a bit more more expensive, but faster, easier and workable - was substituted.


Reason for using bamboo instead of wood is that wood is more expensive and hard to transport. Even if wood was donated from Yangon, it'd be difficult to first transport wood to Laputta, then to villages that need it. These victims don't have any money. Any matter that would unnecessarily complicate their minds should be avoided.

Budget
We call such huts 3x2 and 1-attached. Meaning there're six small rooms in a hut (with an attachment). One room is big enough to comfortably house 2 persons. A hut can house 12 people. Building five huts cost about 1,000,000 kyats ($850). A hut costs 200,000 kyats ($170) and one person's cost will be about 20,000 kyats ($17). These are actually really affordable housing.

These are more necessary now than big permanent houses (taking months to build) for them. The villagers can build the huts themselves. We provide the meals while they are building. By having them take part in building these huts, they also get a sense of contribution and understand that not everything can be given to them as gifts. After such huts are built, we will work together with other related NGOs to arrange sanitation and water.

Let's help

The cyclone took many lives. However much they are controlling their emotions, they have suffered much emotionally. Parents, siblings, spouses perished right in front of their eyes. We cannot feel we have done our jobs just by returning their lives to normal. We have to work and help them achieve something extra out of their losses. If their sanitation was not proper before, and it remains unchanged now - that'd mean surviving this ordeal didn't make any change in their lives. Nothing improved. We need to help them improve their state of mind, living standards and education. That's the only way their surviving of the cyclone would make any sense.

In other countries, there exist groups which console and help the victims. Why don't we have such groups? I'm saddened by this fact.There're about 100,000 displaced refugees. If we built such "budget huts" for every one of them, the bill will amount to 2 billion kyats. Our funds are minute compared to that huge number. But we will build as many huts as we can afford. If you wish to donate huts, you can calculate based on the information above, and donate for x number of villages, x number of huts, and so on. You don't have to send it though us either. Anyone can go down to these villages and analyze the on-ground requirements, and make useful contributions to help the victims.


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