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Take me there now  or  I want to stay here

Submitted 9.05pm 13/5/08

I arrived in Yangon on schedule; miracle after miracle to get in here with the gear carried. I’m aware of a reportedly a little progress on the macro scale (UN, large NGO’s) day by day, but we can do much on the ground through the indigenous church here. First day has been very productive in gathering information and assessments from various sectors.

Our partner church on the ground, has deployed about 50 staff pastors to 17 sectors in Yangon Province. They have a decent distribution network in place to villages in a 2 hour radius of Yangon. They’ve bought rice & water to this point. Their funding has run out but they will be getting funds from various outside sources as other NGO’s recognize them as a practical distribution point.

Potable, safe water is a big issue… dysentery is starting to break out in several areas. Tomorrow we’re going out to two areas with the water purifiers to do some on the job training with a few locals who will be responsible for training others on how to set up a village water filling station, and how to operate and maintain the machines.

FTH will buy two more units so that the church has 4 which can then be used by water brigade teams to service several sites every couple days. I really like how the church is responding and the excellent quality of people committed to the relief work.

Malaria is the number one killer in Myanmar followed by diarrhoea under ‘normal’ conditions — not relating to the cyclone. So with the unbelievable amount of standing water covering this whole area, malaria outbreaks are also now occurring.

The Vortex water units is a key to addressing the diarrhoea issue, and we will buy 1,000 family-sized mosquito nets which we can have treated in pyrethrum for .06 cents each… these family sized nets are quite large and are meant to cover several people as they customarily sleep close together on bamboo mats.

A fellow NGO has been working on the overland transport of supplies from Thailand to Myanmar and will attempt to send a truck this week. If that goes well FTH will be able to piggy-back on their inroads to move bulk disaster relief supplies across the border as part of the extended project recovery.

Rice is still affordable here in Yangon, so it wouldn’t pay to transport rice, but building materials like zinc sheeting and roofing nails are ridiculously expensive, they’ve increased almost five times since the storm hit.

I continue to meet with other NGO’s in country and with UN reps to see how we can be more effective with the narrow avenue of opportunity here in Yangon. It is very important to act now with as generous a gift as possible because it’ll be put to work right away.

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