Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar (Burma) in May 2008. CTF Thailand together with its local partner, the Border Development Association, has been working since the disaster to serve the people affected. Thus far CTF Thailand under the leadership of Rocco Pairat has executed 7 missions into Myanmar. Through their local partners they have also maintained numerous relief works – running medical clinics, the construction of schools and homes, etc. Rocco reports on the 7th mission into Myanmar that took place from November 2-7, 2009. Here is the substance of what he wrote:
The purpose of this mission was to visit all locations that the St. Camillus Foundation in Thailand had supported through the CTF in its the activities in Myanmar. Therefore they had arranged schedule of activities very tight with a very limited period. The program of this mission is shown in Annex 1. The list of those representing Camillians [CTF Thailand] for this joint mission included Pairat Sripraseret [Vice-Provincial Superior, Camillians in Thailand], Ms. Marissa Khomin [Camillian Volunteer], and Mr. Myo Thein [Local Coordinator in Myanmar]. The list of volunteers who joined them for the mission can be seen in Annex 2
Yangon/Multipurpose Center,Karya Village,Yangon
The Camillian team arrived in Yangon in the morning and the activities started in the afternoon. We left the hotel at noon in order to be able to reach the Multipurpose Center at Karya Village by 1300. The village and the surrounding area had many orphaned children and others who were greatly distressed as a result of Cyclone Nargis. Many had come from the affected area to stay with their relatives. The Multipurpose Center at Karya Village started operating in October 2009 to provide free education to children around the village. At the center there are students, street children, and a kindergarten for poor children. There is also a computer training center. The Center was also preparing to set up a free medical clinic to serve all poor people in the area. This place will be a leading light for the future of this poor people by providing an opportunity for them to access free education and health services. St. Camillus Foundation [Thailand] recognized the important social function of the Center for meeting the health and education needs of people. The Camillian team discussed this with the chairman at the Center and the members of the Border Areas Development Association on various joint activities in Myanmar.
In cooperation with the Border Areas Development Association, the St. Camillus Foundation in Thailand supported the rehabilitation of clean drinking water ponds in the Irawaddy Delta region. Eleven ponds located in three different townships (Kawmhu Township, Kunchangone Township and Dedaye Township)
were rehabilitated by October 2009. We engaged the landless poor villagers to participate in this project as labor workers and paid them. This helped them by providing them clean drinking water and through generating income for them. The details of the beneficiaries/numbers of people from this project is reflected below.
Numbers of beneficiaries and locations for clean drinking water ponds project
|Sr.||Township||Name of the Pond||Water Storage (gallons)||Beneficiary|
|5||Pegone (Bago Pond)||175,219||47||370|
|7||Wegyi (Okkan Pond)||707,616||44||152|
|8||Dedaye||Hmabi (South Pond)||651,456||96||166|
|9||Padethargone (Minkan Pond)||2,515,968||86||330|
|10||Thabyugone (Pond No. 3)||312,000||50||220|
|11||Thabyugone (Pond No. 2)||608,400||221||1,099|
Concerning the village’s health clinic project, the St. Camillus Foundation [Thailand] has supported 3 free clinics [Wegyiaungmingalar (Thongwa) – Kunchangone Township (Clinic No. 5)]; Thabyugone, Dedaye township (Clinic No. 6); Hmabi, Dedaye Township (Clinic No. 7), which started operating in August 2009. The last clinic was set up at the Multipurpose Center at Karya Village, Yangon Township. All these village health clinics were located near the St. Camillus Foundation supported Rehabilitation Clean Drinking Water Ponds. Before establishing any free clinic there were many meetings with the village authorities and the village health clinic supervision committee regarding the location and the administration details for the clinic including the doctors, nurses, and village health workers for each place. For each clinic, the availability of the doctors were subject to agreements established with the doctors in question. At the Thabyugone Clinic the doctor will be at the clinic for the weekdays but at the other two clinics the doctor will be there on the weekend.
The St. Camillus Foundation [Thailand] also supported the rebuilding of part of a school that was destroyed by Cyclone Nargis at Zabu Oke Shoun, Nunnery at Kyauktan. It also provided livelihood support for food and kitchen utensils for school children. The President of St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand had agreed to to support the proposal for the Multipurpose Center for Education at Karya Village in Yangon. The major support was focused on educational materials, i.e. computers, tape recorders, electronic organ, swings, see-saw, climbing-sliding, etc. This center started operating on October 1, 2009.
The total number of students at the Center was 55 is broken down as follows: kindergarten (15), first standard (7), second standard (4), third standard (7), fourth standard (8), fifth standard (5), sixth standard (1), seventh standard (6) and eighth standard (2). In addition, there are 17 students in the computer course. There are 17 sessions for each computer course. There are 10 volunteer teachers at the center. There is a plan for arranging short training course for parents and poor villagers around the center on nutrition, hygiene, good sanitation in future.
Yangon/Dedaye Township (Hmabi Free Clinic and Thabyugone Free Clinic)- see map
The Camillian Team left the hotel at 0500 in the morning to take a ferryboat across the river and then a taxi to Dedaye Township. It took us about two hours to reach Dedaye City. From Dedaye City we had to wait for the taxi boat to go to Hmabi Village where the St. Camillus Foundation supported a free clinic for the villagers. Along the way the river was at the low tide and our boat was too big to continue on the shallow river. Mr. Than Tun, chairman of the Hmabi local committee, therefore arranged for the passengers to change to a small boat, and the big boat with the luggage would follow. We went directly to the Hmabi Free Clinic (Clinic No. 7) with the small boat. Upon arrival the medical team started to immediately provide treatment and services to the patients. There are monthly meetings for all the chairmen of the village health committees of each of the clinic supported the Border Areas Development Association at its office in Yangon. They discuss problems faced by the clinics, the replenishment of medicines, etc. About 30 patients received service from the medical team.
We proceeded to Thabyugone Village (Clinic No. 6) by boat after lunch. It took us two hours. Unfortunately, it was low tide and our boat could not go further. All of us had to take motorbikes and the medicine box and luggage to then go with the tractor to Thabyugone Monastery. It took us about 15 – 20 minutes to reach the Monastery. After refreshing ourselves, the team immediately left the monastery by foot for about five minutes to the village’s free health clinic (Thabyugone – Clinic No. 6). There were many patients waiting at the clinic. Mr. Myo Sed Tun is the chairman of the Thabyugone village health committee. The team gave medical treatment and services until dark. The medical treatment ended up being provided under by candle light. About 50 patients received medical services.
Thabyugone /Bogalay Township (Lake Kapar Village & Pyin Po Gyi Village)
The Camillian Team was supposed to leave by small boat at 0515. Unfortunately the weather was very bad with strong winds, and the Abbot of Thabyugone suggested changing to a bigger boat for safety reasons. Finally, we were able to leave at 0730 with a bigger open boat without a cover. The boat had to go through a very narrow canal for about 45 minutes followed by a little wider canal for another 30 minutes before coming out to the river. We reached Dedaye City around 1100. We had to take a taxi from Dedaye City to Bogalay Monastery. Due to time constraints, we went direct to the Bogalay port to take a boat to Lake Kapar Village. We left Bogalay at 1300 and had our lunch in the boat on the way to Lake Kapar.
We reached Lake Kapar Village at 1430. There were 200 households in this village with a population of 793 (348 males and 357 females). The medical team started to provide medical treatment and services. This trip there were two physiotherapists (volunteers), and both of them helped at the clinics to give advice and services to many elderly patients. One volunteer gave counseling to one patient who had just lost her child. Other volunteers went to the classes and taught English to the students. They took charge of 3 different classes. All the students were very happy. By the end of the afternoon around 60 patients had come to get our medical services. The president of St. Camillus Foundation [Thailand] distributed rice to the villagers.
We were not able to visit Pyin Po Gyi Village due to time constraints. We just sent rice to the villagers there as planned. There were 238 households with a population of 803 (Male 428, Female 375). The Abbot of the Bogalay Monastery was in charge of the rice distribution.
Bogalay/Mawkyun Township (Upper Kyane Lada Village (Maha Bodi Clinic) & Kwin Chaung Village)
The group left Bogalay at 0530 to get the taxi boat at 0600 to go to Mawkyun. The group arrived Mawkyun at 0900. We visited the Pyisimaryon Clinic (Clinic No. 3). St. Camillus Foundation [Thailand] distributed rice to villages of Pyisimaryon and provided sport instruments and sports clothing to the orphans and children of Pyisimaryon.
After lunch, the Abbot of Pyisimaryon and the Camillian group left Mawkyun for Upper Kyane Lada Village where the Maha Bodi Clinic (Clinic No. 2) is located. The distance was not so far: only half an hour to reach the clinic. The rice yield is better this year. The second crop will be in December. There were 208 households in this village. There were 69 farmers and the others were daily workers and fishermen. The President of St. Camillus Foundation distributed rice to villagers. Two volunteer doctors took charge of the clinic. There were 122 students in the school. This includes those from the villages nearby. Our volunteers went into their classrooms to teach them English with some simple English songs. Many were made happy for the volunteer English teachers.
From Maha Bodi, the whole group went to Kwin Chaung Village (Clinic No. 4). This village had 500 farmers and 400 daily workers and fishermen for a total of 900 families. There were 131 patients waiting for our medical services. Due to time constraints the two doctors were not able to treat them all. They left the normal cases to the nurses of the clinic.
When we returned to Mawkyun Monastery, we were told that the program had to change because the Abbot was not able to take us to Ngwe Taung Yan due to unavoidable situation. Therefore, we decided to leave Mawkyun early the next morning.
In the evening after dinner, the Abbot of Mawkyun Monastery with his team and President of St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand and his team discussed future activities under the responsibilities of the Abbot. It was agreed that the Abbot would prepare the list of medicines for the 4 clinics supported by St. Camillus Foundation for the period of six months and made an agreement with the pharmacy to store the medicines after their purchase. The Abbot would buy them and prepare contractual services agreements with the health personnel for the 4 clinics for a six-month period. Another item was to buy a simple set of medical equipments from a standard list for all St. Camillus-Foundation-supported free clinics. An advance would be made to Mr. Myo Thein for these procurements. It should be made within one week time.
Mawkyun (Ngwe Taung Yan Village)/Pyisimaryon Clinic (Clinic No. 1)/Yangon
The group had to omit the program at Ngwe Taung Yan Village due to the program change as requested by the Abbot. However, because the rice had already been bought for 128 families at Ngwe Taung Yan Village, the Abbot of Mawkyun agreed to arrange for the distribution.
The group left at 0530 to take the 0600 express boat back to Yangon. We reached the city at 1230. The President of St. Camillus Foundation invited all volunteers for lunch before sending them home. In the evening, the Camillian team met with the BDA team. The chairman of the BDA volunteered to assist the Abbot of Mawkyun to prepare the report by asking the Abbot to send his staff from Mawkyun to go to Yangon. Mr. Myo Thein will coordinate this matter before the departure of the BDA Chairman to Singapore in December.
The Camillian team left Yangon for Bangkok in the morning.
The summary of the activities for this mission is provided in Annex 3.
CTF Thailand has another mission into Myanmar planned for December 1-7. Stay tuned. And pray for them and those that they are serving. The people in Myanmar are still suffering from the effects of Cyclone Nargis.
Fr. Scott Binet