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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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...

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

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