Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Myanmar cyclone aid picks up pace

ABC7 News - Watch Video

Bay Area Burmese work to aid cyclone victims

by Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle

Burmese residents of the Bay Area were organizing themselves Monday to provide aid to victims of the catastrophic cyclone in Burma and to help each other cope during the agonizing wait for word of their loved ones back home.

Several local grassroots associations of Burmese exiles planned to meet tonight to coordinate their fundraising efforts and to plan for a Friday rally at the San Francisco Federal Building and a Saturday prayer vigil at a Buddhist monastery in Fremont.

Anxiety was high for many Burmese people here, as personal anguish mixed with political frustration that the Burmese military regime was moving so slowly to allow relief workers into the country.

"It's a really bad situation right now. The numbers of dead keep going up," said Ko Ko Lay, a San Francisco photographer who fled Burma in 1988 but whose parents still live in Rangoon, the nation's largest city. "International aid cannot go through without government permission, but in a natural disaster there isn't time for permission. ... This is humanitarian aid, not politics. People around the world are trying to help Burma." READ MORE»


see the 3 videos at: world news australia vidoes
and good info here:
Disaster Relief Manual disaster info


I was in contact with someone - my fiance -in Yangon late Tuesday night, by email and chat. (before that I was communicating with US embassy people, but that doesn't count, because their email is by satellite) She said that there is no power, and whereas running generators is common every day in Burma ( the power goes off every day), fuel is scarce and very expensive, so generators are rarely running. Therefore, people with mobile / cell phones can't charge them, so even if they work - they are dead.
also, international phone connection still seems pretty dead.
She said an internet cafe managed to get online, and was using a generator for power, and that there was a huge line of people waiting to use internet.
She said, people were getting help with water supplies and some food.
She lives in Hlaing Township, Yangon. I asked who is helping - she said common people, monks, and government people (and she's no fan of the gov).
She and her mother and young nieces were scared for their lives the night of the cyclone, and at one point the roof tore off their house.
I'll hopefully email or chat with her tomorrow night.



I've been doing things here, kind of quietly, but intensely.
Spoke with Foundation for the People of Burma, and have been in email
contact with US Embassy in Yangon, etc.

A couple broad points:
trying to rescue stranded people, reach and take care of bad injuries,
provide clean water, water purification, food, and fuel, clear roads,
remove dangerous things and dead bodies.
(this phase may be longer in the far parts of the delta,
and the countryside east from Yangon)

Building shelter for people: sometimes temporary. Establish adequate water,
power, garbage, medical systems - sometimes temporary until long term
can be built. Care for orphans, or traumatized victims.

done with higher safety and longevity standards.
This is a long term problem, and Burma will need just as much money - actually more money -
in a month, and 2 and 3 and 6 and 10 months, etc.
And, this is the BEGINNING of the monsoon season.

Money that is donated and collected has to be spread out, for this particular disaster - and money will
have to be donated and collected again, and again.

Sources in Burma, and just coming back, say there is a lot of aid money in Yangon,
but the things that are needed to buy with the money: water purification tablets,
shelter material, food staples, medical supplies -are not quite there yet.

They need these things ASAP, and they are mostly arriving soon - hopefully.
HOWEVER, getting these things to the far-flung areas is still nearly impossible,
or very difficult. It's not so much a money issue at the moment.

The point is: do everything we can, and also realize that in a lot of similar situation, the interest and hard
work fades away - often before the second phase 2 is completed. People get overloaded, and burnt-out.
If it can't get into phase 3, then we haven't completed our job.

SO - pace yourselves, and realize that Burma needs our energy and commitment FOR A LONG TIME.
(If you've read my reports of the work I do in Burma, I pace myself at high-speeds)
Even after all the deaths are tallied, and all the damage is assessed, Burma will STILL need
a lot from us. If it can't get into phase 3, then we haven't completed our job.

DONATION MONEY doesn't all have to be sent off immediately. Just as when a country pledges a large amount
it's rarely all delivered at once. Because, miss-use, ill-use, or worse, can happen in chaotic conditions.
Let's collect as much as we can, and dole it out with clarity and purpose. And then again later, and again.

Money can't be wired or transmitted to Burma - it's carried in.
There are people going to Burma that can carry money in at times -
I'm meeting someone tomorrow that's going in soon, I'm going in June 1,
others will be going. It can be doled out to agencies in Burma, or to specific needs, etc.
It is nice to have some 'personal human connections' to: an orphanage, school, village, widow, etc.

Nick Harmony
Hoping for Hope in Burma

Concerns Of Expatriate Family Members Over Victims Of Burma Cyclone

Rita Williams Reports
KTVU 2 News
Watch Video

Meeting Announced

You Are Cordially Invited To Join The San Francisco Bay Area Burmese Community Meeting.

What: Burmese community meeting in San Francisco bay area.
When: Wednesday May 7, 2008. At 7:00 p.m.
Where: 4619 Central Ave, Fremont, CA 94536
Phone: (510) 795-0405
Who: Burmese community & friends of Burma

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