September 2015 Donation for the forgotten people in Chin State
When I started at the beginning of August to ask for contributions to help the Chin flooding situation in Myanmar, I had little idea what a challenge it was going to be to finally get to the areas where we wanted to help…
As already mentioned, my intention was to help the ‘forgotten people’ in that region. During the first weeks of the flooding, immediate help was delivered to Kalay and near Hakha (capital of Chin State) where refugee camps were set up. The one in Kalay had over 5000 refugees. I was offered help by a priest who, when we finally met him, said he was only interested in just ‘delivering’ the goods to a camp, but not until his next trip in November! He told us he had 1500 rice bags (donations from Singaporean companies) and did not seem impressed by our 120 bags, plus medication, clothes and blankets (needed for the cold season that is coming soon).
When I asked him about the number of people living in Hakha, he said he had no idea… which only made the decision to go on our own much easier.
Meanwhile I would have needed a special permit to get into this area (normally we don’t need), so I couldn’t go there myself. Time was running, though, so we decided to buy all the goods in Mandalay and then bring them by truck to one base in Chin State and from there distribute the goods to several villages, places that are still totally cut off from civilization right now due to landslides which have closed roads in the area.
Over one million people have been affected in all but two of Burma’s 14 states and regions since June 2015. Approximately 1.2 million acres of rice fields have been destroyed including large parts of Burma’s “rice bowl,” an overwhelming catastrophe for the country, which tried hard to cope with it.
Mr. Kywa Kyi and Mr. Aung two of our country guides from Mandalay gracefully volunteered their time to travel there personally and make sure the goods reached some of the poorest villages in Chin State (along with Rakhine State, it is one of the poorest states in Myanmar). I have to admit… I have not read one word about the famous Nobel Prize winner going to help those 2 States… I saw one picturesque image of her in a boat in Bago (a town near Yangon on the way to the Golden Rock) during the flooding, and that was all! And to be honest, we have floods there every year and often people do need to use their boats instead, and not their cars or trishaws… but one would think that with such a huge foreign support still backing her up, it would not have cost her much time and effort to mention the dire situation in both of the poorest states in her country!
Articles about Bago floodings in 2012, 2013 and 2014:
September 14, 2015 at 4.30 pm finally Mr. Kyaw Kyi and Mr. Aung started their bumpy journey to Chin State, still not knowing where they would have their base for the distribution of the flood/landslide donations.
September 15, 2015. Next morning at 7 am they arrived at Gangaw village and were advised to locate their base in Narpon Village. They reached Narpon Village at 6 pm and very happy to rest and get some sleep after an over 24-hour journey from Mandalay!
September 16, 2015 at 7.00 am Mr. Kyaw Kyi and Mr. Aung decided to split and travel into different villages by motor cycle taxi. Mr. Kyaw Kyi’s destination was Banpar Village, (30 houses) and
Mr. Aung’s destination was Tufal Village (75 houses)and Lontaw Village (15 houses) which are only 4 miles apart fromeach other.
Mr. Kyaw Kyi arrived at Banpar Village 4 hours later. He spent the day with the villagers and found out that Banpar’s situation was the worst one. The problem in all villages was not the destruction of housing but the total destruction of paddy fields and the extreme damages to the infrastructure (roads and utilities) in the area. Rice prices more than doubled to what we paid in Mandalay. (Meanwhile, the rice prices have increased all over the country). They further lost 6 horses (out of 15) and only 3 horses of the 9 they have left, are able to work as the other 6 horses are injured.
They further discussed the best way to deliver the relief supplies to them. He was told that although Narpon Village, their ‘base village’, was only 14 miles away, only the first 7 miles from Narpon to the Banpar could be delivered by motorcycle… the remaining 7 miles had to be carried on by the villagers because the roads had been washed away.
Mr. Aung meanwhile traveled to Tufal and arrived there in the afternoon. He met with the villagers and they decided to visit next early morning Lontaw Village. Both villages have altogether 15 motor cycles for the next day delivery and both villages can be reached by motorcycle.
September 16, 2015: the auspicious day for three villages in remote Chin State
On this morning,Mr. Kyaw Kyi, together with some ofthe Banpar villagers walked 7 miles to the meeting point and waited for the motorcycles. After a while they could see a string of motorcycles ‘snaking’ through the muddy hills beneath them. There are only 8 motorcycles in Banpar Village and the chief of the village sent them to Narpon Village early morning … it was a tough ride…
In the afternoon Mr. Kyaw Kyi and the villagers waited at the halfway point for the motorcycles to come back, and then they carried the rice bags, medication, blankets and clothes to Banpar Village for the last 7 miles.
Mr. Aung drove back to Narpon Village to take care of the equal distribution of the goods to the 3 villages. They completed their mission by late afternoon and arrived back to their base Narpon in the evening.
September 17, 2015. On the way back, our guides first stopped at Gangaw village to give some donation to some of the workers who helped them. Although they were also affected by the mudslide, they can’t afford to buy rice because is had doubled in price. I was told that they cannot express the gratitude and humbleness of the people they encountered. They were very happy, although in the pictures they look concerned and quite serious. Their ordeal is far from over, but what they got is a bit of hope and the comfort that there are people who did not forget them.
And also a BIG THANK YOU
to my clients & friends who were so generous to financially support this donation, AND to our guides Mr. Kyaw Kyi and Mr. Aung as well as our local suppliers !