Cyclone Nargis: what YOU can do to help
All over the world people are in shock over the massive destruction left in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. Our helplessness in the face of this natural disaster is further compounded by the frustration of not being able to help contribute towards reconstruction. Burma has been run by a miliatary dictatorship for many years now, one which has a long habit and too much practice in lining their own pockets at the expense of the population.
It’s precisely for this reason that the people of Burma are in such incredible need of help. People who were struggling on the margins of subsistence have now lost what little they had. Unfortunately, sending money through the government will do little to help and very few organizations are willing to work in the country or have established themselves there.
The most beautiful thing about Burma, however, is people’s ability to keep holding on, despite the most terrible conditions and the great news is that there are a number of things you can do to help.
People in Singapore, or people who can collect a significant donation, are urged to contribute to an organization called the Metta Development Foundation. According to our source in Rangoon:
In 2004, Metta was part of the tsunami relief efforts in southern Myanmar and have maintained a presence there that now is being utilized. The organization has over 450 committed staff members and nearly 11 years experience in the field. Their project workers in the cyclone-affected areas were out helping the day after the storm hit and have impacted about 2,100 lives in the past six days.
Coordinating with UNWFP, UNICEF, UNDP, ADRA and PACT, Metta is currently distributing food, water, medical supplies and living essentials to the refugee camps in Ayeyarwaddy Division. They are dedicating 100% of funds given to the cyclone victims towards getting to and assisting the affected people (administration and overhead costs will be absorbed by the
organization). Please email one of Metta’s founders, Seng Raw, at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to transfer funds into a Singapore account which is accessible to them the day after the deposit.
For people in Thailand, we recommend contributing to the relief efforts of Cholia Muslim Religious Fund Trust.
Although our organization was initiated by Muslims, it is an inter-faith organization in nature. It works for interfaith and has deep commitment for intercommunity development. We learned many valuable lessons from our Christian friends and partners in this regard.
I have witnessed firsthand the work of this organization and know them to be trustworthy, hardworking and incredibly dedicated. Our contact at the organisation sent this update from Rangoon recently:
We faced enormous devastation, never met in my sixty years of life. Some unoffical sources quote the number of casuality as more than one hundred thousand, still many more missing. I managed to open an initial relief unit, which could help feed some 100 families for one week. I am in need of funding for further weeks. One week of food package for one hundred family costs 900 US$. Meanwhile, I am making assessments to the damaged houses that could be repaired with low budget.
If you have any helping hands, please contact the following organization which acts on behalf of us in mobilizing and regulating the relief works in our country.
Contact Person: M. Abdus Sabur, Secretary General
Asian Muslim Action Network / Asian Resource Foundation (AMAN / ARF)Bangkok- Secretariat: 1562/113, Soi 1/1, Mooban Pibul, Pracharaj Road,Bangkok 10800, Thailand.
Phone: (+66) 2913-0196, 2912-2267
People from North America or the UK can give to an international organization. There are many good organizations working in Myanmar and here are some our source in Rangoon believes have the best on-the-ground
resources and experience in emergency work. Remember to specify that you
want the funds to go to the Myanmar cyclone relief efforts when you give.
a) Artsen Zonder Grenzen or Medicins Sans Frontieres—Doctors without Borders: Holland or Switzerland, respectively. They have many health and food programs within Myanmar already.
Finally, people in the Netherlands and in Europe can contact ZOA Refugee Care. The head of the office in Thailand told us: ZOA NL together with some people we have on the ground in Yangon are moving. A joint account has been set up in the Netherlands to receive and co-ordinate funding and emergency responses.
We are waiting for more information about how people can donate to the account in the Netherlands and will update this site accordingly.
These are all good people, good organizations and good work. If you can help, please do.