Following our first update on the 15th May on the Balloons over Bagan / Malikha Lodge cyclone relief fund, I would like to take this opportunity to update you.
Thanks to your generosity together with Friends of the Rainforest Myanmar (FORM), we have raised over US$20,000 so far. From this amount Balloons over Bagan and Malikha Lodge has spent approx US$2500 in local currency in purchasing supplies and arranging their safe passage down to the delta area. Our efforts and your donations have been divided as follows:
1. Two of our managers with specific skills have been provided on a full time basis for the next 3 months to Save the Children UK. Our financial controller from Putao is assisting with stock and inventory at the company warehouse in Yangon for international aid arriving by air. Our Operations Manager and crew chief from Bagan has received specialist training to lead and crew a specially imported relief supply boat to more remote areas. This boat will operate from one of the famous Pandaw boats which has been generously given over to the relief effort as a floating hospital come forward logistics hub.
2. This morning two of our logistics staff departed Yangon by boat on a multi day trip to Moulmeingyun. Our relatives on the ground will personally take delivery of more than US$1000 worth of water, rice, canned foods, medicines, soaps and clothing for up to 200 people. Moulmeingyun itself was not too badly affected, but the surrounding villages were hit very hard, and together with some of the village heads we hope to arrange for them to collect our relief supplies on a weekly basis to take back to their villages
3. A donation of US$900 purchased bags of rice and tarpaulin used for shelter with the Bogalay Peoples Committee. Our two Yangon-based logistics staff will return from Bogalay with documentation and photos on their way back from Moulmeingyun
Early next week we will be in a better position to evaluate our efforts once our boys return from the field. If successful, we can commence weekly deliveries using our own in-house staff and increase the amount of aid need in these areas, as well as ascertain more accurately what is required over the next few months. To this effect we will put out a further update with photos by the end of next week.
Finally, it is very heart warming to see that so many of you, who have visited Myanmar over the past few years maintain such a strong connection to the country and its people, and as leading members of the tourism industry, we believe this highlights the positive role tourism can and should play in Myanmar
[Brett Melzer owns the Malikha Lodge in Burma’s far north and also operates Balloons over Bagan, a tour company. The above letter is Brett’s second update on conditions following Cyclone Nargis.]