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Christian aid teams based and working in-country in Burma (Myanmar) are doing their best to help survivors in the areas devastated by the recent Cyclone Nargis. (Foreign workers are not permitted to travel to these areas, making things even more desperate.) Here is a recent report.

On the second visit to specific villages, two staff and five volunteers took 50 sacks of rice, fish cans, iodized salt, candles, cooking pots, instant noodles, ready-made food, building tools and tarpaulin. The journey began with a three hour boat trip to the first village, guided by a volunteer from the charity Mingalar Myanmar. In this village were 37 people, comprising 12 families, to whom goods were distributed with the help of the village head.

About another 30 minutes boat ride later, the team arrived at another village to distribute goods to 25 families, or 79 people. A further boat ride trip to another village resulted in the team distributing goods to 143 people comprising 57 families.

One of these villages has been struggling with its water supply since the cyclone destroyed much of the pump workings and pipes. The remaining parts had then been stolen, leaving the villagers unable to access their underground water supply. The team was able to give money to the Mingalar Myanmar Volunteer Group, to enable them to buy the pump and associated pipes for this village the following day, which the villagers would then fix by themselves. Further ways to help these villages include rebuilding houses and drilling new wells 400 feet underground to pump clean water.

On another occasion, three staff and three volunteers went to revisit another area, beginning by meeting with the monks and monastery staff at the monastery which has become a learning center for the victims of the cyclone and for the poor in the area. The team experienced no barriers due to the different faiths, and the chief monk was very happy to get help from people like the team, who donated 20 rice bags, salt, oil and noodles.

Three staff and a volunteer also went to a township, with 40 bags of rice. We distributed five bags of rice to a Christian orphanage, enough to feed their five orphans for 50 days. The orphanage would like to have regular sponsors and school materials for the children. In 2009 they hope to house 15 children, so they are praying for their own land and a house building.

In the township of 600 people, 21 bags of rice were distributed with the assistance of the local authority. At the local church and Bible school center, the remaining 14 bags of rice were distributed. They were very grateful for our help.

A few days later, three staff and five volunteers hired a speedboat and loaded it with 50 rice bags, two rolls of tarpaulin, nails, rice pots, clothes, beans, biscuits, fish paste, tea pickle and soap. These were distributed at a number of small villages, in one of which, only 15 houses were left standing. The villagers gathered gratefully to receive the supplies.

In the next village, the village authority welcomed the team and had a good conversation together. Donated goods included tarpaulin for 10 houses. Out of 35 students, only six had survived, all of whom were very glad to receive help, encouragement and prayer.

At another village the team talked with the chief monk and was able to distribute the goods themselves. It became evident that the main needs were for paddy seed, wells, ploughing machines and basic community assistance.

“We saw some young people playing volleyball in the midst of the damage; it was such a happy sight,” said one team member.

Report dated July 2, 2008