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Burma after Cyclone Nargis -- survivors and heroes

Cyclone Nargis on May 2nd inundated Burma's densely populated rice-growing Irrawaddy Delta, destroying entire towns and villages. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by the storm and at least two million survivors left homeless. This disaster has been compounded by the millitary regime's deliberate delay of international emergency assistance.

Burma is a country where relief money and water purification tablets are smuggled in, where sacks of rice for starving people must pass through checkpoints of hostile men with guns, where the compassionate impulse of fellow humans is viewed by the dictators as somehow criminal.

In a country where grassroots organizing is discouraged to say the least, local cyclone relief efforts have nonetheless sprouted up relentlessly. Supported by the few foreign aid groups previously able to operate in and around the Delta region, these local staff members, Buddhist monks, church workers, teachers and health workers have tirelessly brought whatever help they could to the people of the Delta -- makeshift clinics, emergency food distribution, crucial water purification and rainwater collection materials, shelter tarps. They have been a lifeline.

And the people of the storm-swept region, we must remember, are not just numbers -- the awful abstraction of the body count -- they are not just victims. They are monks, they are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, they are farmers, they are merchants, they are dancers. They are survivors. They are our heroes too.

One of the amazing aid groups with whom I am personally familiar is:
Global Health Access Program (funding indigenous emergency teams currently providing aid)


Auma's picture

Hello Edith!

I watched the happenings in Burma on TV here in Kenya!I am glad we can see and feel with Burma through your eyes!I am happy to meet you more here Edith. Welcome!

Leah Auma Okeyo.

Jennifer Ruwart's picture



Thank you for sharing this information. I visited GHAP's site. I was inspired by the courage of the Burmese people and the volunteers who are doing their best to support them. I was also saddened for obvious reasons.

I want to direct everyone's attention to the beautiful and haunting pictures of Dang Ngo.
What a powerful story these pictures tell.

I visited his/her (?) website as well. These pictures break my heart. But I also feel hope in them. Especially the picture called "A sprint on handicapped sports day in a Thai refugee camp."

Looking forward to participating in a vibrant conversation that brings the plight of the Burmese people to the forefront of our attention.

All my best,

Corine Milano's picture


Dear Edith,

I am excited to see your voice here and to read your powerful update about grassroots efforts inside Burma. It is inspiring to see the hope and courage that remains in a country that has repeatedly been devastated.

I wanted to point you to the Burma Cafe, a PulseWire group devoted to Burma. The link is here:

You will need to join the group before you can post, but once you have joined it is easy to contribute!

I would love to know what you envision as the best way for women around the world to support the people of Burma. I have seen many petitions to sign urging congress to send in more aid etc...but it is hard to filter and know what the most powerful actions are. Given your expertise, do you have any recommendations? This would be a great topic for a post to get the Burma group started.

I look forward to collaborating with you further and would love to hear more about you and your involvement in this movement.

All the best,

johnsonssempijja's picture


Hi, Please l am johnson, nice to meet you on this great blessed website,your welcome.,


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