Helping families get back on their feet in Myanmar
YANGON, 14 January 2005 - After an earthquake shook the ground under Hla Than’s feet the morning of December 26th, she returned to her daily work, unaware of the danger that was approaching.
“When we returned to our homes, what we found was so bad that we could not recognize where we had once lived,” she says. “We became destitute without any food and clothes, and without any means of making an income. Everything was swept away.”
While Myanmar was largely spared the cataclysmic effects of the recent tsunami disaster, scattered villages along the coast of Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy Delta were pounded by the ocean torrents and families’ homes were swept into the sea.
Mother Aye Min San lost her home and her young nephew in the tsunami.
“My brother’s child [w]as standing very close to here,” she says as she looks out towards the ocean. “He was on the shore, and the wave swept him far away, back into the forest. That’s where we found his body.”
UNICEF has delivered more than 650 emergency family kits to help tsunami-affected children and their families make it through this difficult time. The kits have been packed with blankets, clothing, utensils, mosquito nets and other essential items.
“We’ve provided these families with the things they tell us need the most,” says UNICEF Health Officer Myo Tint. “Clothes and blankets to keep children warm and basic household items they can’t easily replace.”
UNICEF is also rehabilitating clean water systems in remote, hard-hit areas where access to safe water can often be a challenge. Ensuring that children have access to safe, clean water helps keep them healthy and protects them from a range of diseases.
While UNICEF’s current assistance is addressing the immediate needs of tsunami victims, longer-term support is needed to ensure that affected communities can fully recover from this tragedy.
One component of this assistance is psycho-social support. For many children, the emotional scars of the disaster can linger on long after the initial shock of the tragedy has passed.
Five year old Soe Sandar Aye recalls her terror as she ran away from the oncoming waves, saved only by her mother’s strong and loving arms. “I don’t even want to look at the waves anymore,” she says with a sorrowful, vacant look.
To help tsunami-affected children like Soe Sandar Aye, UNICEF will be providing essential psychosocial, education, water/sanitation and health support to help them resume a normal life and stay healthy, safe and strong.
For further information please contact: