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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Myanmar: Many still rely on tsunami relief supplies from 6 months ago

© UNICEF Myanmar/2005/Thame
12 year old Phyo Ei Khine opening a UNICEF-supplied survival kit at home.

By Jason Rush

PHONE DAW BYAE, Myanmar, 21 June 2005 - When the Indian Ocean tsunami pounded the sleepy fishing village of Phone Daw Byae last December, more than 100 families lost their homes – destroyed by the relentless waves. Six months later the shattered wreckage still litters the sandy ground near the shore.

Many children in Phone Daw Byae and other parts of Myanmar saw their lives overturned.

“That morning I was selling snacks with my mother, and while we were cooking the first big wave struck the shore,” says 12-year old Phyo Ei Khine.  “We ran to a monastery, and then the second wave hit. Our house was destroyed and almost everything we had was swept away.”

UNICEF quickly responded, providing affected families with survival kits packed with essential supplies.

“We received a UNICEF box with blankets, pillows, pots and pans,” says Phyo Ei Khine. 

Many tsunami-affected families continue to rely on these supplies even today.

© UNICEF Myanmar/2005/Thame
The children of Phone Daw Byaw returning to school.

Back to school

As dawn rises in Phone Daw Byae, music fills the air at the village’s local primary school.  It’s the first day of the new school year in Myanmar, and children are obviously happy. Returning to school means returning to normalcy, leaving behind, at least for a while, the chaos left by the tsunami.

UNICEF is delivering educational supplies for 60,000 children living in tsunami-affected areas, providing students at primary schools like this one with textbooks and other basic school supplies to help defray the cost of their education.

The organization is also supporting the repair and refurbishment of 400 schools. Schools in particularly hard-hit areas are receiving new water tanks.

© UNICEF Myanmar/2005/Thame
Phyo Ei Khine in front of her school’s new water tank.

Life remains far from easy

Phyo Ei Khine’s family still uses blankets, mosquito nets and other supplies from the UNICEF survival kit they received months ago. Her family also has a new latrine.

“We didn’t ever have a latrine before the tsunami, but now we have this UNICEF latrine, [which is] better for our health,” Phyo Ei Khine says.

Life for Phyo Ei Khine and other tsunami-affected children in Myanmar remains far from easy. UNICEF is continuing its work to bring assistance to all these children in need.




20 June 2005:
UNICEF New York correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on how UNICEF is helping the tsunami-affected children of Myanmar.

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