(PORTLAND, ORE. - July 29, 2008) A Portland doctor says Myanmar families still struggle to survive weeks after a deadly cyclone displaced more than 1 million people.
Dr. Wendy Dyment, a senior relief expert with Medical Teams International who recently returned from the region, saw critical shortages of medicines, food and clothing. “Communities are far from returning to normal. Cooking utensils, soap, mosquito nets and fishing materials—all essential items to help them recover—are in short supply."
Dyment worked alongside cyclone survivors, recruiting and training 20 local health care personnel to help families get back on their feet. Dyment and the relief teams traveled to four of the hardest hit areas where they heard countless stories of loss and hardship.
“A 78-year-old grandmother, along with her daughter, five grandchildren and a great granddaughter, spent the night clinging to a roof, watching the storm destroy nearby homes and trees. Another village of 1,742 people lost more than 500 members in the cyclone,” explains Dyment.
Working with the Global Relief Alliance, Medical Teams International is coordinating efforts with other alliance members to provide a multi-sectoral response to cyclone recovery. In addition to training local responders, Medical Teams International is helping fund the distribution of basic supplies such as soap, tools, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and tarp for temporary shelters. Donations also will help purchase medicines and supplies to restock health clinics damaged in the storm.
“As we address the physical recovery of these communities, we need to focus on their emotional healing as well,” adds Dyment. “Families are grieving tremendous loss—of loved ones, of homes, of their livelihoods.” Medical Teams International is working with Myanmar community leaders to provide culturally appropriate trauma counseling for families. A children’s book addressing trauma recovery is also being provided.
Medical Team International raised $315,000 for relief efforts in Myanmar, including a $150,000 grant from Dorcas Aid International.