Myanmar (MNN) — While the junta government is forcing Cyclone Nargis victims out of displacement camps and asking some humanitarian groups to leave, one organization has been asked to help.
CEO of Global Aid Network (GAiN USA) Duane Zook was allowed into Myanmar to assess the damage. Zook reports, "U.N. and other officials have estimated that about 144,000 are dead, and another 40,000 to 50,000 are still missing. Probably about 2 million have been displaced."
GAiN was able to help with immediate physical needs such as food and medicine. Now, they're moving into phase two of the relief effort, "supporting the churches there in Myanmar with finances as well as with humanitarian aid. GAiN USA has three containers on the water. We have six more containers ready to go."
This aid will help the local church be more effective in outreach.
Myanmar's future was also severely damaged in the Delta region, says Zook. There were 239 schools in the region. 133 were completely flattened.
Zook was able to visit six villages and is pleased that GAiN is going to help rebuild. "The government has asked us, along with our church partners, to build a school in each one of those. Over the next two to three months, we hope to have those six schools completed. Secondly, we've been asked to help reconstruct community centers. After that, we hope to be able to repair the homes of the people who just can't do it."
This is an amazing thing, says Zook. "A lot of these villages are Buddhist villages. And so, for Christians to come in — and they know we're Christians — and help in this way, it's just a tremendous witness."
There's another pending disaster on the horizon. This is the time of year when the rice crop is planted. Zook says, "One farmer said that if we don't get the rice [planted] in the next 30 days, we won't have a crop."
Since most farmers in the Delta lost their water buffalo, they have no way to plant their crop. Zook says they need mini-tractors to help. "Each one of those tractors cost about $2,000. If you could provide a village with five tractors and there are 50 to 100 farmers in that village, they could share that."
Zook was encouraged by the resilience of the church. "Yes, I saw tears, but I saw people who were getting ready to get back on their feet. A lot of the believers said, 'You know, we don't like what happened, but we believe God has allowed this to happen for a reason. This is giving us a special opportunity to share God's love.'"
National believers report that while the cyclone was an incredible tragedy, it's opened doors for the Gospel. Zook says he heard testimony to that fact. "One after another they got up and shared how the destruction had such an emotional impact [on the people], but how people were coming to Christ as a result."
You can help these believers do even more. GAiN USA is raising $600,000 to help with reconstruction efforts in these six villages. $200,000 has already been raised.