In the 1950’s the British colonists built a 50km double railway line around Yangon, and it still serves 100-150,000 commuters daily. With 39 stops it takes about 3 hours to complete the loop. For a tourist or outsider it’s not about commuting but provides a wonderful alternative view of the city and it’s people. We boarded at Parami Station, just over a kilometre from my … Continue reading The Circle Train
This story is an on/off affair that bridged two countries and a couple of years. It all started with Couchsurfing, the interesting community that connects people throughout the world for the purpose of making new friends and literally seeing if they have a couch to sleep on. Back in the day when I was working in Yangon I had created a Couchsurfing account, knowing that … Continue reading Brush with fame
As we left to go back to Yangon we stopped by one last distribution point and watched the food being given to some of the many displaced families. They are happy to have some food (we supplied only 2weeks) to take back to their ruined homes. The next steps, and what we at WFP take very seriously, is to consider what can be done to rehabilitate ruined/destroyed homes and livelihoods… When you’re poor normal life is not something that you or I can comprehend… yet how often do I go through life, especially hard times, with such a smile on my face…?
The boat containing 100MT of food arrives along the swollen river and we get ready to distribute it to smaller boats and into trucks.
By day 3 (Monday morning the numbers have risen to 57,000 for the district that we’re in… our estimate has risen too. We finalize this with our office and they dispatch around 180MT (metric tonnes) to us by road. The local authorities finally agree on a drop off point for the main town, which happens to be one of the first places and an indoor … Continue reading Myanmar Floods (Pt 2) – 7days, 25000 people, 180MT of food (a tale of an emergency response)
Some boys from the IDP camps race the car as we plough through the 3feet deep water to get to the monastery. All over the world kids find joy in seeming misery… something in the innocence of youth that is refreshing when confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems…
Some more displaced women and children huddle together under the watchful eye of Buddha in a temporary camp in a monastery…
All of this old woman’s possessions lay before her… the most important for that moment was the rice in the basin and that which was cooking in the metal pan. These people are landless and live by doing odd jobs (casual labour) and are some of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar…
16th August; Thursday afternoon… I get a call from my boss to speak with him in his office. The matter at hand was an urgent request from the Government of Myanmar to provide emergency food assistance for 47,000 people that had been displaced by widespread flooding in the delta area (south west of the country and in the area south of the capital Yangon) since … Continue reading Myanmar Floods (Pt 1) – 7days, 25000 people, 180MT of food (a tale of an emergency response)
At the weekend I took a walk through the Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest in Yangon. It’s an incredible sight. Swathed in gold, white, green and red. The massive 326ft high main pagoda rises high above the city and can be seen at night from a large part of the city. In the pagoda environs there are numerous (but not swarms) of visitors, and foreigners account … Continue reading A Conversation with a Monk