“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Latest: competition

Things have quieted down here in Yangon as most businesses reopened
today and repairs continue. Debris (mostly fallen trees and stray
branches) still line the streets everywhere, although major roads have
been clear for most of the weekend. The military held up traffic on
Parami Road this week, clearing the debris, but it's puzzling as to
what effect it would have exactly, as there were 4 men on the truck
working and another 50 sitting around on a tea break on the fallen
trees every time I went past!

The big question is about getting aid to the people in the delta. The
NGOs are feeling frustrated with permits tying their hands, and
foreigners being unwelcome on trips out due to conspicuousness.
Apparently the UN has gotten some aid in and is taking many volunteer
workers across the city to deal with the crisis, but not enough is
getting out. Both NGOs and the UN are frustrated by the lack of
communication about aid that has gone out (where to, in what capacity,
what the future needs were). The embassies have sent out aid,
particularly the American Embassy, but it's hard to tell how effective
it was.

The military government are still refusing assistance and aid, but
money in the form of donations is pouring in, to the point where those
of us with cash are running out of currency to leave with
organizations here. Horrible stories of the government exporting the
much needed rice instead of distributing it are not helping! Many are
concerned that Yangon will run out of rice, but others report that
rice is there, but will run out in the next few days. No doubt the media competition from the Chinese earthquake will mean that Myanmar is forgotten once again! Hope not.

Still no idea what's happening with me. Will hope to know in the next few days.


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