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June 2nd, 2008
05:12 PM ET

Cyclone Nargis: Facts, Figures, Feelings

A road construction crew in Myanmar adds new surface to a highway north of Yangoon.

A road construction crew in Myanmar adds new surface to a highway north of Yangoon.

Naida Pasion
Director Of Programs
Save the Children

It’s been 24 days since Cyclone Nargis wrought havoc across the Irrawaddy Delta and Yangon in Myanmar. Since the day we mounted our response to the cyclone, we have kept track of our progress, expressed in numbers of people reached, the townships and villages we covered, and the aid we provided.

Each day, as we consolidate reports from our various relief teams providing assistance in the Irrawaddy and Yangon, the question always at the forefront is: How many people have we reached? Every time I look at the figure at the bottom of our report that notes “population covered” I always feel triumphant. It’s like winning an election, consistently increasing our lead against hunger, disease and homelessness as we go deeper into unreached areas in the Irrawaddy Delta as well as in Yangon.

Today, we have reached a milestone: We passed the 200,000 mark in our coverage. We have reached 209,000 men, women and children — 20 times the number on the first day, 20% of the estimated 1 million people helped by local and international NGOs. We have delivered 628,000 kilograms of rice, 67,000 packets of oral rehydration solution, 136,000 yards of tarpaulin, among other items, across 17 townships in Yangon and Irrawaddy Delta. And this is just a partial report from the field.
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Filed under: Aid to Myanmar • Aid workers • Cyclone • Myanmar • Severe Weather
May 23rd, 2008
10:21 AM ET

A good day in Yangon, Myanmar... finally help has arrived

People displaced by Cyclone Nargis by their tents in the Kyondah village, Myanmar

People displaced by Cyclone Nargis by their tents in the Kyondah village, Myanmar

Editor's note: Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Scott McGill works for the organization and is currently helping with aid for the victims of Myanmar. He shares his experiences here:

Scott McGill
SavetheChildren.org
Asia Regional HIV/AIDS Adviser

It was a very good day for two major reasons here in Yangon. A good day, despite it being nearly three weeks since Cyclone Nargis changed life forever for so many in this corner of Myanmar and despite the deadly secondary consequences accruing for over 2 million people as a second disaster begins to reveal itself.

The first reason is that finally help has arrived. I am not referring to the intermittent air shipments arriving on the single runway at Yangon’s Mingladon Airport over the past few days, bringing the most basic commodities for those struggling to survive in rapidly deteriorating conditions in the Irrawaddy Delta region. Although, of course, the food, tarpaulin, medical supplies, construction materials, water purifiers and, equally important, clothing arriving are almost literally manna from heaven.

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Filed under: Aid to Myanmar • Aid workers • Cyclone • Myanmar • Severe Weather
May 19th, 2008
02:46 PM ET

Leaving Myanmar, the tears will come later

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.

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
www.worldvision.org

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.

FULL POST


Filed under: Aid to Myanmar • Aid workers • Myanmar
May 19th, 2008
11:38 AM ET

Devastation and Hope in Myanmar

Victims of Cyclone Nargis smile as they receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar on Monday May 19, 2008.

Victims of Cyclone Nargis smile as they receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar on Monday May 19, 2008.

Editor's note: Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Scott McGill works for the organization and is currently helping with aid for the victims of Myanmar. He shares his experiences here:

Scott McGill
SavetheChildren.org
Asia Regional HIV/AIDS Adviser

Working in a disaster, you need to recalibrate your expectations and loosen up your locus of control — and do it fast if you are to healthily adapt to existing within certain limitations, including handling quite a few "no's".  But these past few days it has been much harder.

Managing the frustration of dealing with obstacles, tolerating the helplessness, telling yourself you are doing as much as you can while being painfully aware that there is so much more to be done.  I see it in the faces of my colleagues every day.  When I told some of them what my blog would be about this evening, they nodded in understanding and with similar tired but encouraging smiles.

Then as I sat down to write, I felt that it was much more pressing for me to talk about the people here facing even greater obstacles and challenge and somehow ingeniously rising above them.  For absolutely certain, this catastrophe is a very tall order in resilience and recovery.  Cyclone Nargis has eviscerated a densely populated part of the country and left barely told horror, vast swathes of misery and a depressingly long trajectory for recovery, which we are all in the development and aid community are only just beginning to come to grips with.

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Filed under: Aid to Myanmar • Aid workers • Cyclone • Myanmar