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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Field Report: Drinking water a key concern in Myanmar right now

Today my 32-year-old Sears Kenmore sewing machine and I embarked on a rainwater-collector prototype sewing project. We’re trying out different designs that are simple to set up once they get to the field. Yesterday, we had a group of church people, a senior monk, several HOPE International Development Agency staff and some miscellaneous friends of the staff, all crammed into our office area, gathered around a pile of tarp, brainstorming how to design water collection equipment for the situations they are currently aware of in the Delta.

With a prototype in hand, we will quickly get someone else with more appropriate equipment to produce more of these rain collectors.

We had contact with the medical and relief teams this morning. They have been kept in place by a storm for the past 24 hours, but plan to leave today for a group of villages that is directly south, near the coast.

People straggling through the teams’ current location have reported that the situation remains dire for people in those areas to the south, and no help is reaching them yet.

In order to get there, the teams have to go by boat. It has taken awhile for them to find a boat willing to take them down there with their equipment and supplies. They have managed to borrow some lifejackets for team members, so eight people will go out this morning and be down there for a few days, out of contact.

The conditions on the roads and bridges to the Delta are terrible now, with so many heavy vehicles trying to cross and with all the rain. The wait to cross the damaged bridges is many hours and people are getting stuck waiting overnight to cross.

We had vehicles of partners going out yesterday and today, but yesterday’s vehicles have not arrived in Bogalay as yet. In additional to the rainwater collection kits, medicine, and clothing, we are also getting food out to these areas.

A huge Thank You goes to each and every one of you who has sent or is sending donations to help. Please don’t stop giving.

Emergency relief is getting to people in need and local volunteers are continuing to work tirelessly to support people most affected by Nargis.

I know you are hearing stories of how the relief supplies are ending up being sold in the markets of Yangon. None of us at HOPE has seen any of those supplies in the markets here, and we’re actively keeping our eyes open.

Further, no one we know who is repeating that story has actually seen any such supplies, either. We realize it is a real danger and a real possibility, but thus far we haven’t seen any evidence of it.

Hope is emerging a bit more everyday!

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