Submitted 9.25pm 14/5/08
Stefan Radelich was able to contact the FTH Australia office and give an update on current relief efforts.
Arriving early Tuesday he was able to make good connections immediately. He was really impressed with the quality of people involved at the local church. They had established 32 church plants before the disaster, but unfortunately the senior pastor has only been able to contact 12 of them in the days after the disaster. Stefan was not confident how many had tragically been killed in the disaster and how many were simply missing.
The church has already conducted three distributions among the 17 provinces of Yangon. Each distribution would give 2000 families enough rice for 3 days. These initial food distributions were purchased with the church’s own funds. These funds have long since been exhausted.
Yangon the largest city affected by the cyclone has reportedly returned to a functioning state of normalcy with shops reopening for business. He does note that military check points prevent access to roads to the heavily affected Delta region.
The Delta region is flooded with storm water, but it actually has contaminated all fresh water with salt. They are struggling for the kind of clean water that Stefan can help provide through the purifying pumps he brought in. They will be of immediate use if he can get them into the affected areas. He is hoping he can train local church team members in their correct usage and begin operations among the survivors, and bring more through the next shipment.
Rice and other food items seem to be readily available at reasonable prices in Yangon. Stefan is recommending for the next few days that food should continue to bought in country rather than pay for the shipping from Thailand. However basic building materials and items helpful for emergency shelter have skyrocketed. In some cases they are five times more expensive than pre-cyclone prices. FTH will look at helping to relieve these supply problems.
Stefan mentioned reports of people migrating away from the disaster areas and heading to remote villages in the hope of finding food and shelter. They are creating of their own accord what the United Nations calls an IDP or Internally Displaced People camps. This could actually create additional pressure on the villages because they themselves have no resources to help – but are compelled by compassion.
Stefan is continuing to coordinate with other NGO’s and the UN representatives that are in country to find the best ways to bring in more aid supplies, and to make sure it gets to the people who need it the most.
Since our inception in 1987, FTH has always operated as a CHURCH to CHURCH humanitarian organisation. FTH endeavours to raise funding in the western or first world and distribute among churches in the third world or in this case the disaster areas.
This not only helps ensure that food is correctly distributed, but also helps build the local church in the community, and therefore gives the local Christians an opportunity to share the Gospel through their acts of kindness.
FTH is continuing to seek emergency donations from Christians and Churches who have plenty to spare and therefore can share. Please contact the office to send your best donation to help bring Christ into this situation and end this terrible catastrophe.