, Southern Asia-Pacific Division
Seventh-day Adventist volunteers are stepping up relief efforts in Myanmar after ongoing monsoon rains caused flooding that has killed at least 106 people displaced more than 1.3 million others.
Adventist leaders in Myanmar have organized a central emergency disaster response committee to implement relief work through small teams across the south Asian country.
“With the effects of the flood devastation continuing to challenge relief efforts, groups such as the Adventist Church have enormous opportunities to assist as many survivors as it can,” the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, whose territory of 14 countries includes Myanmar, said in a statement Monday.
“While it may seem that the response is limited in comparison to the overwhelming needs, Adventist church leaders in Myanmar believe that Adventists there can still make a powerful impact in survivors’ lives through an organized, compassionate response,” it said.
A team from Adventist World Radio and Yangon Adventist Seminary delivered supplies to an isolated village 170 miles (275 kilometers) from Yangon on Aug. 13, while other relief teams entered the hard-hit Ayeyarwaddy region and areas near the capital, Yangon, this week.
The radio and seminary team provided the first outside assistance to the village of Thone-Eain-Tan, which could only be reached by a three-hour drive followed by a challenging 90-minute boat ride, said Hla Hla Myint, a radio producer who led the trip and raised about US$1,000 to cover the cost of the humanitarian aid.
Water continues to cover the village’s roads, houses, schools, and jetty, the producer said. More than 500 people, or most of the 109 families who live in the village, have been affected. The flooding destroyed their homes as well as the rice paddy fields that serve as their source of livelihood.
Relief workers used a small canoe to distribute rice, noodles, snacks, clothing, and drinking water to the villagers. Some of the villagers came by canoe to collect the aid in more difficult-to-navigate areas.
Let Let Swe, a teacher at Yangon Adventist Seminary, said distributing food was a rewarding experience.
“My heart is thrilled when I see the happiness of … young and old villagers,” the teacher said. “I also pray for them to not suffer.”
With the water level still high and a cyclone forming in the Bay of Bengal, the villagers are worried about new flooding. With this awareness, the relief team offered a special prayer for the villagers.
Meanwhile, Ayeyarwaddy Mission president Khin Maung Latt has joined executive secretary A One Thein and other relief workers in distributing food in southern Mynamar. As part of the Myanmar church’s overall strategic plan to assist both community and church members, this team focused on a village where more than 70 members live.
Adventist schools, churches, and individual members are also contributing through fundraising, the donation of supplies, and on-site relief efforts.
Yangon Adventist Seminary students collected US$400 for students at their sister institution, Upper Myanmar Adventist Seminary, located in Kalaymo, which is in one of the regions where the government has declared a state of emergency. Local churches have donated funds, food, clothing, and ready-to-eat meals. An Adventist restaurant owner has donated meal boxes to all relief team members.
ADRA’s Myanmar branch is also actively involved in distributing aid and is posting information about its efforts on its Facebook page.
The Adventist Church has 230 churches and more than 28,000 members in Buddhist-dominant Myanmar.