I was idly going through the articles on Truthout this evening, and a NYT piece about the cyclone relief efforts in Burma caught my eye. Apparently, it is the monks who have been able to help the most.
Kun Wan, Myanmar - They paddle for hours on the stormy river, or carry their sick parents on their backs through the mud and rain, traveling for miles to reach the one source of help they can rely on: Buddhist monks.
It seems that the international relief workers have encountered many impediments in the efforts to reach those who need the help most, while the monks, who are already there, can do the most if they have supplies and donations. Luckily, Avaaz.org has set up a way to donate directly to the International Burmese Monks Organization.
The May 3 cyclone left more than 134,000 dead or missing and 2.4 million survivors grappling with hunger and homelessness. This week, some of them who had taken shelter at monasteries or gathered on roadsides were being displaced again, this time by the junta, which wants them to stop being an embarrassment to the government and return to their villages "for reconstruction." On Friday, United Nations officials said that refugees were also being evicted from government-run camps.
The survivors have little left of their homes and find themselves almost as exposed to the elements as their mud-coated water buffaloes. Meanwhile, outside aid is slow to arrive, with foreign aid agencies gaining only incremental access to the hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta and the government impounding cars of some private Burmese donors.
The obvious answer is to give directly to the monks themselves. Please contribute something. Almost two and half million people are homeless and starving ... it is hard to imagine the scale of such suffering. And it is the monks who can make a difference.
In a scene the ruling generals are unlikely to see played out for themselves, a convoy of trucks carrying relief supplies, led by Buddhist monks, passed through storm-devastated villages in the delta this week. Hungry children and homeless mothers bowed in supplication and respect.
"When I see those people, I want to cry," said Sitagu Sayadaw, 71, one of Myanmar's most respected senior monks.
Village after storm-hit village, it is clear who has won people's hearts. Monks were among those who died in the storm. Now, others console the survivors while sharing their muddy squalor.
Please donate something to the monks now. Thanks.
Click here to contribute.