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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 20th 2008: Report from the field: Personal Experience - Group1-MSNA

Hi all,

This is embarassing to admit. Previously, I had envisioned myself to go all out and do the necessary humanitarian works to save all those poor Nagis victims. But after the day return trip on Saturday (17 May), I was emotionally and physically exhausted. (and we just went to Twantee area and Kun Chan Gone, not to the delta region. I can't imagine how I would be in those areas.) I was consumed with so many different thoughts and emotions that I could speak about the day's experience at home in the next day only.

Nevertheless here is what I like to share with you all.

Starting from Yangon, we already see many cars, trucks leaving Yangon. At a check point out of Hlaing Tharyar, somebody took a glance in our car, but said nothing. It was ok. No questions asked. We were very glad that the blockage were not conducted anymore. We heard everybody is going out ok.

Phayar-ngote-to Village (northern and southern part):

We had planned to go to Phayar-ngote-to village on the Twantee area in early last week. There are some damage in the village, but it is not so bad. Their primary school needs to be rebuilt because the foundation is tilted now. The villagers were extremely happy and told us that only when donors come to them directly, they are able to receive the goods. In this north side village, we donated (1kg of rice, 5-7 pcs of potatoes, 5-7 pcs of onions, salt, 2 eggs) per family, also donated were clothing, snacks, some baby milk powders from MOEGYO. We offered mosquito net, and a blanket to Sayadaw. The population is 110 families in this village. In the south village, we donated 3 bags of rice, 1 bag of onions, a half bag of potatoes, 250 eggs, baby milk powder to the monastery. We didn't distribute to each family because we didn't have enough time.

Thone-Khwa Village, Kun Chan Gone (KCG) (about 600 families):

We continued our trip to Kun Chan Gone. As soon as we go into KCG area, the devastation is apparent, little has been repaired. The smell was also very bad from some rotten bamboos, and trees. We started seeing lines of people standing by the road to grab any thing that donor's cars may drop onto them. (I don't mean they are dangerous and will attack you but they just stand by at the road side and waiting to get any food or supplies). At one place, a car in front of us dropped some stuff into the children crowd, the children running around trying to grab anything they find on the street. It was a chaos and was very dangerous both for the kids and for the cars driving behind.

Once we get into the dirt road leading to the village, we were immediately welcomed by the nasty smell. We found some dead buffaloes and cows in the creek next to the village and the paddy fields. I didn't go see it myself but I was told there were also some human corpses lying around in the creek in the back of the village. This is after 2 weeks of cyclone. When we asked why they never cleared these dead bodies, the villagers said, they had cleared some bodies (about 200 something died in this village) in the beginning. But these new bodies are drifted from somewhere else, there were no one to claim them, and the villagers are not willing to clean them. They said it sure smells bad, but we are now used to it, and we are not going to go near them. So, you can see and feel how bad it is. At the end, someone has to lead the way and clean these as water and air around them are so polluted.

We donated Food/Supplies from MOEGYO in this village plus the clothing and snacks that we brought along. We donated the items to the families taking refuge in the monastery. There were about 80 families in the monastery and some more from the village. We labeled the foot powder and the medicated creams in Burmese and we explained them what they were.

In summary, we like to do following things for our next trip:

For immediate relief efforts, we like to bring
- Rice, onions, potatoes, salt, eggs, instant noodles, pots, plates, cups etc
- mosquito nets, blankets, clothings, towels
- water purification tablets

We think that the population within day-return trips from Yangon area cannot die of hunger with the way the current donations are going on. In Thone kwa village, during the 2 hour that we were there, there were other 4 donors doing the same thing like us. And there are donors everyday, the villagers told us. We were wondering if there is anything we can do for the second phase of relief: community redevelopment program.

For second phase, community redevelopment program:

- Schools are opening soon. Some schools are damaged and collapsed to the ground, some are still occupied by the victims, some are still under repair. If the parents have a hard time going thru day to day they are not going to send their children to schools on the extra cost. We should be able to look after these kids, providing books, pens, pencils, text books, school furniture etc.

- The houses need to be re-built really quickly. Monsoon is hitting already, they have to be under a safe roof before things get worse.

- The farming season has to be started in a few days time. Now, these farmers do not know how to start the season, they lost their cows/buffaloes, any trucks (how do you call lae-htun-set?) they have, they also lost their rice-seeds. The situation for the next coming months is very doom. Please keep these options in your mind to help them out.

- Can we get some items from you for our next trip? Or some funds to buy rice, onions, potatoes, eggs etc for food items and books, pens, pencils, text books, shoulder bags, rain coats etc for school children?

Thank you so much for all the contribution you have provided to us.I will send the photos later on. Will also fill out the forms NL/PT gave us. I still have tylenol, some baby milk powder, milo and candles left with us. We will bring them with us on next trip or we will donate further to the groups that we know who are doing several trips in a week.Some groups are starting to talk about coordinated efforts between us. There will be a meeting on 22 May with our group.

Thanks and regards,

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