Myanmar presses too fast toward a new ‘normal’

By June 3, 2008

Myanmar (MNN) — A month after
Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, the government's recovery efforts are going
at a snail's pace. 

Yet, because military rulers
pledged a speedy rehabilitation, they've just re-opened schools there. The effort
is being received with lukewarm response in the international community.

According to the United Nations
Children's Fund, 4,000 schools serving
1.1 million children were damaged or destroyed by the storm. On top of that, over 100 teachers were killed,
with no replacements. In response, the
government announced an ambitious plan to train volunteer teachers to teach in camps
and other temporary sites.

The junta regime also pledged
open access for international aid teams, but there are many reports of the
government's reluctance on allowing full access to survivors of the disaster.

Rather than wait for the
eventuality, ministries like World Hope International (WHI) utilized a working
partnership with medical staff in country.

World Hope's David Erickson says,
"We have been resourcing them so that they can provide medical care,
focused especially on children, but also more generally distribute food
supplies, rice, beans, cooking oil. We've also been working with a Bible
seminary and enabled them to provide shelter."

According to WHI, the government
has given permission for local non-governmental organizations and church groups to distribute supplies
without their interference. Union Biblical Seminary in Yangon is providing
shelter to over 100 people. Some of their buildings have suffered extensive
damage, yet they are still able to serve some of the locals who have lost their
homes in the storm.

Food, water, blankets and
medicines are being distributed throughout the Yangon area. The leadership of
The Wesleyan Church of Myanmar is currently in Irrawaddy assessing needs and
distributing goods in that area as well.

There is much more work to be
done. Erickson says they're also working with the local churches. "The people that they're ministering to
are traumatized, are extremely vulnerable. Just the presence of our team there and bringing practical things–that's a very strong manifestation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's living
the Gospel in deed."

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