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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:

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.

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.

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