Aid to Myanmar goes steadily; workers keep a low profile

By May 26, 2008

Myanmar (MNN) — Myanmar's leaders have agreed to allow access to all foreign aid workers for cyclone relief, but their delay may have cost lives.

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's Jacob Kramer says they've been able to avoid
that pitfall in getting aid into the worst-hit regions.  

That's because their team bought the supplies locally and in
small quantities. "Adding many small scales to each other still reads
substantial numbers; thousands and thousands of people. That has been a real
blessing for us," Kramer notes. "The
Burmese staff, with low profile, could find their neighbors and their
suffering fellow citizens." 

CRWRC has been contributing to the relief effort since May 9
through its partner World Concern, another Christian relief organization with presence in
Burma/Myanmar. According to the CRWRC, the
way they have been able to get supplies to the survivors is to transfer CRWRC donations
to World Concern which are then wired to the World Concern office in
Burma/Myanmar.

That local team then purchases food and supplies through
local suppliers– suppliers from border countries like Thailand. Aid responses relying on local relationships
are considered local initiatives by the Myanmar government, so aid can be
distributed without interference.

The CRWRC is also trying to get matching grants from the
Canadian government, which would double their impact. The Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) will work with funds given by Canadian
donors. All CIDA-approved agencies, including CRWRC, must prepare a
proposal outlining how matched funds will be used to help survivors of Cyclone
Nargis.

Kramer says
it's all about the Gospel. "We
carry that message with us with every kilo of rice, with every blanket, every
bottle of water, or disinfectant pills for water. The Burmese know very well
who are Christians and who are not the Christians. Bringing aid through those
hands, they are really Christ's hands reaching out."

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