May 19th, 2008
02:46 PM ET

Leaving Myanmar, the tears will come later

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/19/art.myanmaraid.jpg caption="Victims of Cyclone Nargis rush to get first in line to receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar on Monday May 19, 2008."]

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. Here is how she found out she would be traveling to the region to help the victims:

Laura Cusumano Blank
World Vision emergency communications officer

I just hung up the phone with Thai Airways. Almost two weeks to the day that I got the "how quickly can you get to Bangkok?" wake-up call, I'm heading back to New York City. It feels like the last time I saw my husband, my apartment, and my favorite corner coffee shop must have been two months ago, but it's only been two weeks.

It's hard to leave this post feeling like there is so much work left to be done in Myanmar. I guess that's the challenge of being a communicator. My job ends when the real work on the ground begins. By then, the story has most likely died away, and yet another emergency has popped up in yet another forgotten corner of the world.

At this time next year, will people still be asking me how to pronounce the name of this country? (For the record, it's MEE-ann-mar). Will they remember how many people were affected by this storm? (At last count, close to 2.5 million). What about the tens of thousands of children who were left orphaned? Where will they be in a year? Who will take care of them?

The tears haven't come yet, but I know they will. I wonder when it will happen? Talking about newly orphaned children, ever growing death counts, and the migrating homeless from the delta region has morbidly become second nature to me. But how can I possibly go home without being moved by the people who are left behind? I'm sure the tears will come when I least expect it – when I'm telling a joke, drinking my corner coffee shop latte, reading a book.

But when they do come, I won't hold back. Because I know that I've suffered little compared to the suffering of the people of Myanmar. And I know that I'd be willing to do this all over again if it meant having the opportunity to be a voice for those who've lost theirs. Give me one more chance to advocate on behalf of the poor, the suffering, the weak, the impoverished, and I'll do this all over again. Even if it means another 7am wake-up call.

Read Laura's post when she arrived in Myanmar. LINK

Filed under: Aid to Myanmar • Aid workers • Myanmar
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Brian #1

    What an incredible journey. I look forward to hearing more about what you experienced while you were there. We need people like you to give us a face to the faceless statistics that are easily swept aside (I don't even know how to conceive of 2.5 million people). We need your tears to show us that this tragedy matters, and that it is not right, that this is not the way the world is supposed to be. Our thoughts and prayers have been with you.

    May 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm |
  2. katy cusumano

    I LOVE YOU LOEY! You've done a wonderful job.

    May 20, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  3. JJ_Orlando

    I want to go there and help these people. I want to pray for them.

    May 19, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  4. Mark from Pennsylvania

    This country needs more people like you. When I see people around me worrying themselves over the state of their lawn or having the finest new furniture delivered to their house, looking down on the have-nots, I think about people like you. People who really matter – doing God's work. I wish some people in our society would feel shame in the way they live, only looking out for their own interests. Here's to you for making a difference.

    May 19, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  5. Inga

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for the remarkable work you have done.
    God Bless

    May 19, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  6. Sharon from Indy

    Crying shows that you are human. Let the tears flow when you are ready. Thank you for your stories.

    May 19, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  7. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I cannot even imagine working in those conditions. It is truely giving to the least among us. You shared their stories and brought their plights to the world. That's pretty awesome. When your tears come know that many of us have cried for these people as well. Quite honestly, I don't know how one can be a caring human and not cry for what these people have endured.

    May 19, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  8. Susan


    You are a very special person. You will continue to advocate for those who can not speak for themselves. Communications sets into motion action. Thank you for your comments and I wish you the best on your next assignment.


    May 19, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  9. Rupa

    Hi Laura, I admire you.
    Sometimes I think though if we could take it if we knew that is our present and future both.....isn't human dignity at its lowest point?

    May 19, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  10. Annie Kate


    I admire what you have done and the countless people you have helped To have a job that makes an actual difference in people's lives in an immediate sort of way. If there is a blessing in a situation like Myanmar its that people like you and organizations like yours show the victims that someone does care about them and want to help. Just think how bad it would be if no one cared.

    Thank you for your work and for sharing your thoughts on it with us.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 19, 2008 at 2:56 pm |