Monday, May 2, 2011

Myanmar three years on since Cyclone Nargis

By Sabrina Chua | Posted: 02 May 2011

Aerial view of the Irrawaddy Delta region devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

MYANMAR: It has been three years since Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, leaving more than 140,000 people dead in its wake. Survivors are rebuilding their lives, but aid groups said their recovery does not mean they should be forgotten.

"Psychologically you could say they are better than three years ago but they are still very sad. A lot of the students that i've met, they still wake up in the middle of the night, crying for their parents," said Plan Asia regional communications specialist Ms Warisara Sornpet.

Plan is one of the few international aid agencies working in Myanmar.

It is focused on child-centred community development, and has built 51 schools for the devastated communities.

Ms Warisara said: "The aim is not just to build back but to build back better.

"The new schools are stronger and disaster resilient than the old schools and will save a lot more lives. And also, Plan, along with our local partner has trained the children to protect themselves from natural disasters.

"Now if you go into a classroom and bang on the table and shout 'earthquake', the children will run to an open field or hide under the table. Before they wouldn't know what to do."

Ms Warisara added: "The people of Myanmar who've been affected by Nargis have shown incredible resilience, by rebuilding their homes, replanting farmland, going back to schools and carrying on with their routine.

"The difference here is that they're carrying on despite poverty and scarce resources."

Plan hopes the world won't forget the Nargis victims.

It is planning to upgrade its long-term presence in the country.

- CNA/cc