Eight feet of flood waters during a two-week period in August disrupted lives in riverside towns along the Zami River in Karen State of southeast Myanmar. CWS responded to the Karen Baptist Convention (KBC) appeal for help by supporting 187 people in Htee Pa Htaw Hto village as part of the KBC coordinated relief for more than 400 families. Neighboring villages received support from other KBC appeal partners. In all villages, families received one month’s supply of staples, such as rice, oil, beans, salt, and toiletries, which helped them cope with the disaster – this time.
Having relocated from another area of the country about 20 years ago, residents of Htee Pa Htaw Hto and nearby villages experience floods yearly. However, 2019 has been most challenging as extreme flooding destroyed farmland. August flood waters damaged rice storage containers than held a year’s supply of rice. Paddy seeds for transplanting next season died as well. Lime tree orchards, rubber plants, and sesame fields sustained heavy damage too. So, there is much agricultural work needed to rebuild the area. But rebuilding is no unknown to families here.
During the last major flood in 2012, A Phoo Saw (grandfather) Oh Khu led recovery efforts. After a long career as a health assistant, he had retired. Then neighbors elected him as their village leader. So, in reflecting on the past, while appreciating CWS and KBC help, he expressed restrained happiness. “At present, we do not worry for our current basic needs because we received aid. I appreciate the support especially during a crisis like this”. He noted his happiness would be absolute once neighboring families received help too.
Since September, there has been no more flooding in the area as the rainy season tapers off. Replanting and agriculture activities can begin in earnest. And while the challenge of replacing the rice for replanting looms large, the short story ends better for 58 more family members because the Karen Baptist Convention had enough supplies through multiple donors bringing support to 245 people total in Htee Pa Htaw Hto.
Southeast Myanmar is far from where CWS partners with communities in the Ayeyawaddy River delta town of Maubin. However, the appeal to help KBC in partnership with other members of the ACT Myanmar Forum for Action by Churches Together was one the CWS Myanmar team could not ignore. In Myanmar, CWS is one of nine active ACT members. Others are Bread for the World, Christian Aid, Church of Sweden, DanChurchAid / Norwegian Church Aid, Diakonia, Finn Church Aid, ICCO Cooperation and Lutheran World Federation.
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