'Road to Mandalay' volunteers packing clothing for the first relief trip (Photo: Dr. Hla Tun)
At the end of October 2010, Cyclone Giri made landfall in Rakhine State, Myanmar and also in Bangladesh. For over 12 hours, there were winds over 100 m.p.h. and a tidal surge of 3 to 4 metres.
Some two and a half years earlier, when Cyclone Nargis hit the Delta area of Myanmar, the loss of life was very high because the area is low-lying and people were unable to escape the tidal surge. In Rakhine State which is hilly, more people were able were able to flee the tidal surge but none-the-less it's estimated that the destruction of buildings has made another 70,000 people homeless in Myanmar.
Once again, the 'Road to Mandalay' team have organised relief for the affected areas.
The work started by collecting surplus 'Road to Mandalay' and 'The Governor's Residence' staff uniforms (about 330 items) and clothing, sandals and shoes left by guests which were packed into sacks. Staff also donated money to assist cyclone victims.
Rakhine State is in the remoter North West of Myanmar with poor roads.
There is still need for continuing medical relief work in the Delta Region and so the trips to Rakhine State form a "second front".
The first trip was commenced on 8th December 2010, involving a journey of some 24 hours using bus and boat. Doctor Hla Tun opened a free mobile clinic and distributed the available clothing at the townships of Myay Pon and Min Pya which lay in the worst-affected areas. On the first trip to Rakhine State, 1,467 patients were treated.
The second trip to Rakhine State extended from 19th January 2011 to 24th January 2011. Clinics were opened on three different islands at the villages of Kyoon Thar Yar, Nga Pa Thon and Kokko. Larger boats were used to cross the sea and then bullock carts transferred the medical supplies and old uniforms to the clinic sites. If the tide was low, small boats were needed to ferry the supplies ashore. The RTM Team were assisted by the local midwife and other health personnel. Translators were required because the RTM Team did not speak the local Rakhine Tribe language. Being winter, it was very cold and the old uniforms distributed to the victims were very welcome since most of them lacked adequate shelter. This trip treated a further 1,552 patients, bringing the total to 3,019.
The third trip commenced on 6th April 2011 and lasted for six days (whilst the 'Road to Mandalay' had stopped operation for two weeks during the Myanmar Water Festival). On this trip, 642 patients were treated, bringing the total for Rakhine State to 3,661.
There are more pictures of the relief work in Rakhine State here.
See the Wikipedia report here.
[Statistics added 15-May-2012: Further additions 30-May-2012].