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Survivors of Burma's Cyclone Say They Need Aid


Three months ago, Cyclone Nargis swept through Burma's Irrawaddy Delta, leaving more than 144,000 people dead or missing. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless. For weeks, the country's reclusive military government blocked international efforts to deliver aid to survivors. Now the generals say the need for relief is over. But during a recent visit to the delta by VOA, many people said they still are waiting for help. They say aid would sustain them for months before they can harvest new crops or find jobs. Heda Bayron has this report prepared by Pros Laput.

The road into the Irrawaddy Delta is heavily guarded by Burma's military.

But in some areas, people from outlying villages sit on the side of the road waiting for donations from neighboring townships.

These volunteers from Bagan township collect supplies and carry them into the affected areas.

At this point, they have been on the road for more than 10 hours. But their journey is not over; they must haul donations into boats to reach villages in the interior.

The villages worst affected are beyond the main roads. Most are accessible only by boat. Along the river, people pick up floating scraps to rebuild their homes.

Memories of cyclone are still fresh

Like this teacher, many people are afraid to show their faces. They fear the government. They talk as if the disaster happened a few days ago.

"The water level was already up to here at that time. There were five people in that house, so we were afraid that the house will break because of the strong wind. The house started breaking apart. I thought it was better to stay in the kitchen because we could easily go out through the roof. The wind was blowing from all directions, so the house was breaking down. We were praying and saying chants that we could escape," the teacher recalled.

She says she escaped the cyclone to return the next day to tragedy.

"The next day, I came back here, but everybody died. Two school buildings were also broken down. The teachers were also killed by the cyclone," she said.

The devastation is still fresh. In this village, concrete houses were destroyed by the wind and surging waters.

Many survived on fruit, food donations

This family lost two children in the cyclone. For days they survived on coconuts and banana stalks. They rebuilt their house out of wood scraps. And they have stored some donated rice.

The village chief says people have food, but their farming tools and seeds are gone.

"At the moment, farmers and day-wage laborers don't have any work," the village chief said. "They face difficulties. We have to eat food, rice and beans, from donations."

Government offered no help to rebuild

He says the villagers received no help from the government.

"We didn't get anything from the government. They said they will supply us soon. We only got some donations from the monks from Mandalay," he added.


One of the few teachers left in this village, says, with the help of monks, they built a makeshift school. But she has no complaints. She expects no help from the government.

These villagers are eager to rebuild their lives. Most still need donations until they can plant new crops and find new jobs. But, like the teacher, none showed anger at the lack of government or international help. They said anger would not help.

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