May 23, 2008 (DVB), Prominent actor Kyaw Thu, head of the Free Funeral Service Society, said domestic and international aid provision is still falling short of the needs of cyclone victims in 20 townships and villages in Irrawaddy division.
Kyaw Thu told DVB in an interview that his team had been providing the survivors with rice, cooking oil, salt, onion and clothes but found that their distribution "could not meet the actual needs of the victims".
DVB: How did the cyclone victims react when assistance was given?
KT: They were very glad. They prayed for us. We were also very glad that we were able to provide relief supplies to those who were in real trouble.
DVB: What is the situation like for children in the places where you have been?
KT: We saw some children were having severe problems surviving as they no longer have parents.
DVB: How are they surviving then? Who do they get help from?
KT: Some are at monasteries and schools by the arrangement of local authorities while others are staying with their relatives or those they are close to.
DVB: What do you think the worst problems are in the places you have been?
KT: I think health conditions. I am worried about it. I am being worried that people will suffer from diarrhoea, dengue fever and malaria because of unclean water and sanitation problems.
DVB: Have any other groups been to those places?
KT: Yes. There are others like us. Some are from companies and some are private donors. We have seen them. We are just unhappy with the fact that we couldn't give the survivors as much as we wanted to donate.
DVB: What is the mental condition of the survivors?
KT: I don't know how to describe their mental state. I think is pretty bad. Obviously, our mental state was quite affected by seeing their troubles.
DVB: What do you think should be done?
KT: I think it would be best if local and international experts could cooperate to support the victims.
DVB: What difficulties did you encounter in aid distribution?
KT: We could only provide aid to people in places we could reach. There are many places still inaccessible, such as places adjacent to the sea in Kongyankone township. I think is best if we can find ways to help people living in those remote areas.
DVB: Did you see any dead bodies in the places you have been?
KT: We saw many dead bodies. We couldn't take care of them due to transportation constraints although we did provide free funeral services. It is more challenging to fulfil funeral functions in places located in or by the water than it is on land.
DVB: You have gone from place to place to help the victims. Do you think they will face difficulties surviving in the future?
KT: I think they will because we could only give them three pyi (approximately 12 kg) of rice, salt and other supplies for each family. I can't imagine what they will be like after they have eaten the rice we gave them. However, if they can receive aid on a regular basis their situation will be better.
DVB: The school term is about to begin. What do you think of the schools in places you have been?
KT: It is hard to even believe that there were villages in places we have been because most of the houses and buildings were destroyed and so were the schools. There were great losses in Rangoon so you can imagine how badly those villages were affected by the storm. I don't see any prospect of children going to school this year.
DVB: Anything else you want to say?
KT: We are trying our best to help the cyclone victims while working on the funeral service. At the moment, we have closed our clinic temporarily because the clinic building is in bad shape and doctors are giving treatment to people locally.
DVB: How can Burmese nationals overseas donate to the FFSS?
KT: They can call +95-1-560 333 or +95-1-578 184.
Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew