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Monday, June 2, 2008

Myanmar - the ‘big story’ is not the whole story

The big story in the news, up until recently, has been the extreme difficulty of getting Western aid into Myanmar.

As with many ‘big stories’, this one tended to obscure another story, equally true, and equally as important for people to know about - especially for people who follow the news and crave to know how to really help.

So the other story is this: there were many people who were serving vulnerable people in Myanmar before the cyclone hit. There are westerners, but many are Myanmar-born.

When this horrifying event happened, they were at work right away, doing what needed to be done, before the news reports began to build up in volume and pitch.

HOPE International Development Agency staff members are honored to be among this network of caring, intelligent, effective aid-givers drawn from all sectors of Myanmarese society. For us, there was no period of waiting: the delivery of aid was immediate, and is ongoing.

In the words of a HOPE International Development Agency field worker:

"What you are hearing on the news would have you believe that until the United Nations (UN) agencies get here, there is nothing and can be nothing happening. This is inaccurate. There has been a lot going on, and it isn’t just because of the UN agencies. In any disaster, the UN actually relies on the smaller, non-UN agencies to do a lot of the distribution of supplies.

Whether through orderly distribution of UN supplies or the orderly distribution of supplies like the bags of rice that HOPE purchased on the local markets and then coordinated to be delivered to several areas right away, most aid delivery is done in a responsible fashion, with good coordination and cooperation between international and local agencies and community people. The delivery of rice was greeted with joy, but there was no frenzy."

Emergency rations of rice were being delivered to survivors right away.

We are living in a skeptical age, and for good reason. HOPE International Development Agency asks for your help because it is able to assist people in very great need.

To a certain extent, we fight against the pessimism that the ‘big story’ tends to inspire in people who would otherwise be glad to help.

Remember to be skeptical of what you learn in the news: not because the story it tells is untrue, but simply because it’s not the whole story.

We’re telling you our story, in the hope that you become a part of it by giving confidently.

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