I don’t watch T.V, so hearing about disasters usually catches me off guard. I recently learned that on May 2nd a category 4 cyclone hit Burma and killed more than I could have imagined. Thousands.
It seems like just yesterday I was walking down the streets of Rangoon watching the locals squat in front of stores drinking tea and chewing Beetlenut. Monk children followed us in awe and were enamored by our cameras and blonde hair. I had discovered that Burma was my new favorite country.
From Rangoon, I traveled in the back of a pick-up truck for an hour to a remote village at Inle Lake. Followed by the Military Junta with guns, my colleagues and I were a little bit nervous about what to expect in Burma, however, I never expected it to be as great as it was.
We had come in perfect timing. Orange water filled the streets, cows walked beside us and several times I swore I felt water snakes at my calves. The “hotel” where we were staying told us that it was the most water they’d ever seen and the most rainfall on record. Nonetheless, the Burmese welcomed us with open arms and even invited us to play Chess and drink Myanmar Rum ( make sure you have a REALLY strong chaser ) The man we played chess with beat our best player in two moves, we were stunned. This man also asked me if I could take a package back to America with me so he could somehow contact his family in the U.S. I was skeptical at first, but before I left I returned to his home and waited for him to bring out his package. He never came out with the package and I felt horribly…
I continued my trip through Inle Lake by motorboat and saw the most beautiful floating villages, floating monastaries, floating garden. Everything floating.
When I heard about the Cyclone, I was devastated. What about the man we played chess with? The monk children? The woman who sold us DVD’s for a dollar? What about the tens of thousands of other people who couldnt be located? What about their homes? I wanted to help.
I found out about the U.S Campaign for Burma shortly after I returned back to the United States and when I checked their website today I was relieved to know that there was something I could do.
It only took me 2 minutes to fill out a form that sent a letter to the UN, Begging them to send aid to Burma.
Worried about the Burmese, I called my grandfather to ask him about my Burmese aunt’s family in Rangoon. I was shocked to hear that my Burmese aunt can’t seem to get a visa to go back to Burma where her mother has been missing since the day of the cyclone.
I didn’t expect to hear that someone I knew, someone who babysat my cousins for years, was missing.
Chances are you know someone who is directly affected by the cyclone in Burma. For their sake, click the link to send a pre-written message to the U.N about sending aid into Burma. Every message counts.
My experience in Burma was amazing. The people were warm, open-minded and yearned to learn about our “free” lives in the United States. I left a part of my heart in Burma, and it breaks my heart to hear that so many lives have been lost, and others are struggling to find shelter.
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