Saturday, May 10, 2008

School Damage Report

Photos and report - just came in from Yangon - from a school project that I help in a distant suburb of Yangon. Below the photos, read the report by the man who started and runs several schools like this. I've been in touch with people in Yangon for three days now, and am getting these kinds of photos and reports about the various projects that I am involved with, and I have assigned some of my contacts there to document other damage and needs as they find them. I'll be there in 3 weeks aiding these and many needs - and with your help we can make a difference.

main school, kitchen

water filter

we need a new kitchen

new daycare center - before & after

daycare- first day, 5 siblings

Dear friends,
Internet wasn't working for a couple of days and electricity isn't available nor will it be for a good while. There is lack of water for drinking, bathing etc, in the case of the school we are fortunate to have a water filter and a diesel engine with enough fuel to supply for cooking and drinking. Also we have a treadle pump by the dug well which enables people to take bath and wash clothes. Many people carry water from afar and boiling water is increasingly difficult with the rain soaking the environment and the markets short of supplies, and of course no electricity is available.

In Thanlyin our daycare school which was opened in January this year was completely demolished and our kitchen was also thoroughly blown apart. The only building which remains is our wooden preschool. I was staying in the school on the night of the cyclone. The howling went on all night and the force increased around break of dawn. I could barely make my way out, but realized the need for securing cooking possibilities and rescued the stove and gas cylinder to cook in the preschool which now also house our daycare children. Five families sleep in the school since their houses have been destroyed and we provide food to them as well as all children in daycare. Other village children from families in extreme need come twice a day for a meal.

Ayawaddy division and Yangon are among the hardest hit areas and these are also the areas that produce most of the rice in Myanmar. The crops in the paddy fields have gone lost and prices already soaring in the markets might continue to be shockingly high creating need for further feeding initiatives. The price of rice has risen drastically, reportedly up to 3 times the normal price and the local markets are running out of stock. The first thing I did after the winds had calmed down was to pull a trolley to the local market two bus stops down the road in order to bring some emergency provisions back to school. Every 50 meters fallen trees blocked the road and no transport could use the roads for several days, still transport is comparatively limited in many parts of the suburbs of Yangon, fuel is costly and supplies are scarce. Thick trees, traffic lights, roofing materials, broken walls and fallen signboards still obstructed the way when I made it in to Yangon several days after the cyclone passed. And people still lack water and electricity. Without electricity they cannot pump water. Some diesel engines are pulled around on carts to be used for pumping water by households paying for the service. From ground level people hand buckets up the stairways to their apartments. Prices on roofing, nails and other construction materials have gone up considerably.

Incidentally I was in the school at the time of the cyclone; otherwise it wouldn't have been possible for me to reach there by any means of transport. Nobody here was prepared since information on the caliber of the approaching winds hadn't been available. The destruction has been massive. Enormous trees of 200 years or more are witnesses that this was an incident without a second in the recent history of Myanmar. Lacking any good source of information it is difficult to get an overview of the disaster but in the villages around Thanlyin about 80% of the houses have been damaged and 50% severely broken or completely demolished.

Walking in the debris of the villages 4 days ago we took another 7 children below 2.5 years into immediate care in our school, providing medicines, food and a safe space while their parents try to patch together something of a home to shelter them from the rains. And naturally there are more children to respond to, we look to the youngest first and those without enough parental support or those in ill health. We will make efforts to continue to keep these children in our daycare since we understand that their families had a hard time making a living already before the cyclone struck and now conditions are even worse. We hope to receive enough support to reconstruct the daycare school and to help the most needy families in our area to rebuild their homes.

Raising Money for Burma's People

Leslie Brinkley Reporting
KGO - ABC7 News - Watch Video

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (KGO) -- A deadly stalemate continues Friday in Southeast Asia. The military rulers of Myanmar continue to refuse most foreign aid in the wake of last weekend's cyclone. With hundreds of thousands of people desperate for relief supplies, the critical issue is whether the government will allow many of them to die. Friday night people gathered in San Francisco to bypass the Myanmar Government, and send help straight to the survivors.

"Where do we want the aid? In Burma. When do we want it? Now," chants the crowd.

Outraged that Myanmar's military regime has refused to accept disaster relief, local Burma supporters rallied outside San Francisco's Federal Building Friday night. READ MORE»

Local Burmese Pressuring US To Intervene In Burma

Renee Kemp Reporting
KTVU News - Watch Video

Vigil In SF Held for Burma Cyclone Victims

KPIX CBS5 - Watch Video

Foes of Burma junta raise voices in S.F.

by Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle

In the wake of the death and destruction visited on Burma by Cyclone Nargis, opposition to the country's military regime is growing louder in San Francisco and across the United States, and scholars are debating whether the crisis could weaken the Burmese junta's authoritarian grip.

Scores of Burmese exiles and their U.S. supporters rallied Friday evening outside the San Francisco Federal Building in support of the victims of the cyclone, which swamped the Irrawaddy River Delta and Burma's south coast last Saturday.

Demonstrators carried banners calling for military leaders to step down and protested the Burmese government's insistence on going ahead with a vote today on a constitution that would perpetuate the military's power. READ MORE»