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How to help victims of Myanmar flooding

Journeys Within Myanmar Country Director Dar Le Khin helping organize relief supplies for flooding victims in Myanmar.
Journeys Within Myanmar Country Director Dar Le Khin helping organize relief supplies for flooding victims in Myanmar.

While monsoon rains flood portions of Myanmar every year, this year’s heavy monsoon season paired with the added rain caused by Cyclone Komen has been particularly devastating to vast tracts of the country. The areas around the state of Rakhine and Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River Delta are especially hard hit, and leaders of the country are calling for massive relocations and international aid to help victims of the flooding.

Here at Journeys Within, we’ve been monitoring the floods through our Country Director Dar Le Khin, who has been helping organize relief efforts in conjunction with Flood Aids Organization – a relief group comprised of travel industry professionals in the country.

We are also setting up a way for Journeys Within travelers and alumni to donate through Journeys Within Our Community, which will then funnel the dollars to organizations within Myanmar that are providing direct aid to flood victims.

Click here for JWOC’s Donate Now campaign to raise dollars for flooding victims.

 Media coverage:

Update from Dar Le (from Aug. 11, 2015):

Dear friends,

Our volunteer group, “Extend Your Helping Hands For The Flood Victims,” (composed of volunteer public-spirited members of our tourism community) is currently helping the victims of the recent catastrophic floods and associated landslides in various areas of our motherland. This unprecedented catastrophe had destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of Burmese people, especially rural folks and disadvantaged people. Extend Your Helping Hands is requesting our friends, both overseas and in-country, provide donations to continue the assistance to these unfortunate victims as they rebuild their lives.

With Metta,

Dar Le

The group named “Extend Your Helping Hands for The Flood Victims” was founded on 29th July, 2015 by a group of tourism professionals in order to provide help to the flooding victims of Myanmar. A three-day campaign collected donations at some crowded areas in Yangon, and has since captured the public’s awareness on the need to provide a hand to the victims along with respect for the group’s activities. This enabled the group to have sufficient funds to perform the emergency relief in the flooded areas of three different states which were all declared as being in a “state of emergency.”

The 1st relief team set off on 3rd August to Sidoktaya village as a base in Magwe division where the villages were flooded by the Mon Creek which passes through Natmataung (Mt. Victoria) National park of Chin State. The overflowing water of Mon creek has receded, but not before swallowing the thousands of acres of crops and filling houses with mud. The relief team, lead by Min Than Htut (MD of Pro Niti Travel), has traveled as far as to the Pan-Chet Village (about 2 hours boat ride from Sidoktaya). Along the way, they witnessed the full scale of the disaster as all they could see was only the tip of palm trees poking out of the water. The team brought hope for the villagers and helped a total of 418 households with about 2,000 peoples at 5 villages along the side of Mon Dyke.

The 2nd relief team headed to Kale on the 5th August led by Bo Bo Kyaw (GM of Uniteam Travel) making their first night stop at Kale collecting data to be effective with their emergency relief efforts. With the help of volunteers, the team has reached the Aung-Myin-Thar village with emergency relief such as rice, kitchen wares, candles, lighters and detergents. It’s hard to express in words the sorrow in the eyes of villagers as their livelihoods have been destroyed and they’ve been physiologically stressed. Thanks to Bo Bo’s experiences with disaster management, he has brought letters to them and read to them of the care and love by the whole nations for the victims. In sum, the Kale team has helped a total of 653 households (about 2,500 people).

While the rescues teams were distributing emergency relief supplies to the victims, the volunteer team in Yangon has put more efforts in raising funds for the second phase of the recovery process focusing mainly on health and education.

Update from Dar Le (from August 6, 2015):

I am involved as a committee member in a group comprised of travel industry professionals which is collecting donations for flooding victims. So far we have been able to collect about 140,000,000 Kyats (about $166,666 USD). Two-thirds of the funds have been used in supplying aid to three locations (1) Minpyar at Arkan state (flooding caused by Cyclone Komen), (2) Pwin Pyu township in Magwe (flood caused by overflow of a few dams) and (3) Kalay in northern Sagaing (flood caused by Chindwin River).

Aid teams already left this morning in Yangon and we are waiting for updates on the situation. We are now discussing for aftermath focusing on: (a) Rebuilding toilet facilities in those flooded areas. (b) Clean water access, such as drilling tube well/ water ponds. (c) Cleaning/sanitizing public school/clinic facilities and reinforcing them with amenities (children should be able to go to school after all).

So, if there is something you can help us on those issues, we would be very appreciative. As we have seen that people in Myanmar are very active with providing supplies and aid now, but are not as aware of how important the aftermath and rebuilding efforts will be as well.

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Markets of Myanmar: A photo essay

Words and photos by Edna Kornberg

Fruit seller
Many exotic fruits are available.

The best way to know a country is through its people. Visiting the daily markets that each town has opens worlds. Myanmar was no exception.

Everything is sold from all types of foods (some of which Westerners would find extremely exotic, like fried ants!) to the basic vegetables, meats, fish and poultry. Colorful spices abound as well as a multitude of grains.

friend ants
Ready for a snack? How about some friend ants?

You could furnish a gourmet kitchen from all types and sizes of pots and pans, utensils, silverware, and drinkware.

The people (sellers as well as buyers) interact with each other as well as with the tourists which makes this a first class social event as well. It is a way of life that has been going on for decades even centuries.

The color and spirit and the din of everyone talking at the same time is infectious. The friendliness, warmth and humility of these people is contagious and so inviting.

Click here to view the photo gallery if not embedded below.

Ready to see Myanmar for yourself? Click here to have a Journeys Within regional specialist contact you, or call toll-free (877) 454-3672… Read more »

Faces of Myanmar

Burmese girlEdna and Steve Kornberg traveled with Journeys Within for a month-long tour through Myanmar, taking in many different destinations in this remarkable region. In this blog post, we’ll share some of Edna’s beautiful portrait-style photos from their time spent among the people of Myanmar.

When we travel, we learn so much about a country through its people. The classic sites are wonderful; the architecture and history of buildings and temples is amazing, but it’s the beautiful people that embrace us and introduce us to their country and culture.

Myanmar was no exception.

We had traveled throughout Southeast Asia previously for a month with Journeys Within, so we had an inkling of that part of the world and what we would experience.

Myanmar was magical. The people were so friendly and welcoming, gracious and humble and so eager and proud to share their country with us. We were the beneficiaries of this special place seeing it through their eyes in daily markets, isolated rural villages on land and on water (Inle Lake), and going to festivals where the people gather to socialize and celebrate.  

All of the people throughout Southeast Asia were warm and welcoming, but there was something special about the faces of Myanmar. We were thoroughly transported to another place in time.

Edna and Steve Kornberg

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The Mystical Monks of Myanmar

Monks of Myanmar

Edna and Steve Kornberg traveled with Journeys Within for a month-long tour through Myanmar, taking in many different destinations in this remarkable region. In this blog post, we’ll share some of Edna’s beautiful photos from their time spent among the monks of Myanmar.

One of the reasons I was so excited to be going to Myanmar is because of the monks and knowing that I would see so many in different environments – not just in monasteries but participating in daily life as well. I first fell in love with them and their practices of peace and humility when we experienced them in Laos (Luang Prabang) and in Cambodia (Siem Reap) on our last Southeast Asia adventure that Journeys Within so expertly prepared for us. To me the monks are like metal and I am a magnet, so drawn to observing them.
The first group of photos was in a monastery in Mandalay where daily at 10 a.m., 1000 monks of all ages walk in two lines with their bowls to have their last meal of the day. As you can see it is very orderly.
Education is very important and parents look for the opportunity to be able to send their male children to a monastery for this learning experience. Some remain for their whole lives, embracing the teachings that they have experienced, and some go back to their villages and continue to impart their learnings and use it in their everyday lives. Can you imagine how excited these parents must be when they find out that their children were selected to get this experience! There are schools in each village but the learning here is much more intense and regimented.

– Words and photos by Edna Kornberg

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Ballooning in Bagan

Bagan hot air ballooning

Edna and Steve Kornberg traveled with Journeys Within for a month-long tour through Myanmar, taking in many different destinations in this remarkable country. In this blog post, we’ll share some of Edna’s beautiful photos from their experience hot air ballooning over the temples at Bagan.

“We feel this was one of the so many highlights of our trip.  It was one thing to go inside each of these temples, or stupas, one at a time, but to get an overview of them like this was breathtaking. As you’ll notice, there are three different colored balloons – red, yellow and green. These represent the colors of Myanmar and each color is from a different company. We were in the green ones. You’ll see how high we were able to get as well as how low. In one photo you’ll see our basket very close to the top of another balloon. It was not scary at all. The company was very safety conscious and our pilot was such a pro. I even stood on the seat (with Steve holding onto my pants!) to get better shots… Up, up and away.”

 All photos by Edna Kornberg.

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