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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".

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