May 14th, 2008
10:11 AM ET

Helping orphans as another storm develops off Myanmar's coast

Editor’s note: World Vision is a Christian-based humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide. Laura Cusumano Blank works for the organization and is currently helping with aid for the victims of Myanmar. She shares her experiences here:

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/14/art.littleboyatshelter.jpg]

Laura Cusumano Blank
World Vision emergency communications officer

I guess when you work in disaster relief, it always seems like the world is ending. Moving from one disaster to the next leaves little room to pay attention to the latest news back home.

First, a cyclone hit Myanmar and left tens of thousands of people dead – and countless more missing.

Children became orphans, fathers lost their sons, grandmothers became parents to their grandchildren. If that wasn't enough, two days ago, an earthquake hit China, and the rising death toll is now competing with the number of dead in Myanmar.

Add to all of that the recent weather reports about a tropical storm developing off the coast of Myanmar with the potential for a cyclone to form within the next 24 hours.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Yesterday, the World Vision office in Bangkok had a power outage – no email, no land lines, no air conditioning, no lights. Can anything else happen here?

How you can help...

Filed under: Aid workers • Cyclone • Myanmar
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Bill in Montana

    Google Karen people instead of Kechan people for information on an ethnic group being left to suffer in Myanmar. I used the wrong ethnic group after looking at Burmas history.

    May 15, 2008 at 12:26 am |
  2. Bill in Montana

    The comments by Michael Pellerin point out the deliberate genocide by natural disaster that the Myanmar military leaders are watching happen. The people dying are members of ethnic groups that have been at war with generals for years. The goverment can get rid of many of the people opposing their oppressive regime by doing nothing. Google the Kechan people for information on one the ethnic groups suffering.

    May 15, 2008 at 12:05 am |
  3. Annie Kate

    This story is so tragic and to have another possible cyclone so soon after the first one plus its monsoon season is just going to worsen already intolerable conditions. And for Myanmar to not allow aid workers in and as some have reported to reroute the aid sent to people who don't need it is criminal. I hope your efforts to help can do some real good – from what I've seen the government of the country isn't going to hep these poor people.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 14, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  4. Eugenia

    The weather in the region ravaged by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar has taken a turn for the better today, after a low pressure system that brought heavy rains and 20-30 mph winds yesterday weakened and moved off to the north. This system appeared to be a threat to develop into a tropical depression yesterday, but interaction with land is hindering its development, and the low is no longer expected to become a tropical depression. You can view the latest satellite images... At weatherunderground.

    San Francisco, Ca

    May 14, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  5. Melissa

    I think about all those who have suddenly become homeless in Burma yet their military government is doing nothing to help them much less allow foreign aid. Now that another cyclone is brewing, where will all these people seek shelter much less food?

    May 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  6. Michael Pellerin

    Any student of Burmese history knows that the current regime, neither derived power from, nor the admiration and respect of the population most severely affected by and at greatest risk of perishing from what is essentially a natural disaster. It should be noted that the regime has been at war with a significant percentage of its population since coming to power, particularly those whom the international community now seeks to assist. The regime regards this natural disaster as a nothing short of supernatural blessing. What it could not do and hide as an act of commission – Genocide as defined by Article 2 of the Genocide Convention against those within its borders whom it detests, it has come to embrace the long awaited hand of nature to do for them, with its acquiescence.

    To appreciate the underlying motivation behind of the regime’s acts of omission, focus upon the net effect resultant from what they do, but particularly in what they do not. While their technique may appear novel, their objective is not.

    In light of the fact that the High Contracting Parties to Genocide Convention have yet to find merit to intervene to prevent Genocide, as mandated pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention when premeditated acts of commission (delayed action in Bosnia and Kosovo, none whatsoever in Rwanda, and little more then rhetorical gymnastics in Darfur to name but a few), any serious student of history will tell you that there is no hope for ethnic minorities whom the Burmese regime has long regarded as inconvenient and disposable. Now sit back, listen to the silence and observe the inaction our respective governments.

    While the U.S. Department of State expresses difficulty securing landing rights from the Burmese Government for the delivery of humanitarian aid and visas for aid workers to distribute it, DOS continues to systematically deny the asylum applications of and deport Burmese nationals from the same ethnic groups long targeted for persecution by the regime, now victimized by the cyclone, and more recently by inaction of their government.

    Anyone ready to the take to the streets over the price of milk and whole wheat bread?

    May 14, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Mary Howell

    Dear Mr. Cooper,

    Today I was watching the news when it was brought to my attention that someone had purchased a piece of art for 33.6 million. One of the men speaking in this news report said basically that millionaires need something to spend their money on. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. Do these people never hear the news or do they have a heart. How about all the devastated people who have lost their homes and loved ones in just the past week. With all the millionaires in the world these people should not have to wait for funding or anything pertaining to cash. I am appalled at the way money is just blown on senseless things when so many are in need. Anderson I know you care about people and I just pray that you or someone would address this issue. These people have been blessed with this kind of money and I know the Lord would want them to turn around and bless those in need.
    Thanks for all you do,
    Mary Howell

    May 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Susan


    Looks like more bad news for an already battered nation and its people. So sorry to hear of another storm coming. Keep your mood up.

    Last week when I went to cnn.com/Impact World Vision had not been listed yet, so I sent a check out this past weekend to
    Save The Children. I enclosed a letter stating that it was to be designated for the Myanmar relief, not to go into the general fund. I hope contributions from me and many others allow you to provide comfort to these people.


    May 14, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  9. linda., bella vista, ar

    It is my understanding that NO outside aid workers are getting into Myanmar with the exception of one medical team from Bangkok. Adm. Keating has negotiated 2 planes + 5 additional planes to be delivered stating that the USA will not 'violate' air space without permission.

    Rice provides 'income for Myanmar' and much of the crop has been lost. The Myanmar Army [many poor conscripts] are 'keeping' what is available for themselves. [rotten food being given to victims-survivors?] If food-supplies do get into Myanmar will it go to the Army that is suppressing the poor of Myanmar?

    Another cyclone is on the way.

    What are the REAL prospects of actually getting aid to those in need?

    Also, does World Vision deliver religious messages with their aid?

    May 14, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  10. Cindy

    Man I feel really bad for the people of Myanmar. To go through the horrible cyclone and lose their loved ones and then barely get help from their own government. Now on top of that a earthquake hits China and takes the focus off of them. And now another cyclone may be forming!? Geeze...what more can happen!?

    I just hope that they get the help that they need and that nothing else catastrophic happens!

    May 14, 2008 at 10:53 am |