I never want to write about thing like this, but with recent natural disasters it is a good opportunity to feel grateful for what I have and know that there are good people trying to make a difference. While I have not heard a word yet from anyone in China, I have gotten some news to pass along from Myanmar.

Here is the following report from Myanmar Marketing Committee.

MMC Updates on Tourism Infrastructure in Myanmar
Yangon and the Ayeyarwady Delta of lower Myanmar was worst hit by tropical cyclone Nargis on the 2nd and 3rd of May 2008.

In its wake, Yangon International Airport serves regular international and domestic flights’ operations as from the 5th of May and all domestic and international airlines have resumed their flights. Hotels in Yangon are open and operating. Transportation is possible and many fallen trees have been cleared from the roads. Other tourist destinations such as Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake were not affected and tourist activities in those areas are operating as normal.

For any further updates on tourism infrastructure, services and operations in Myanmar, please contact Khine Wai Thwe or Thwe Thwe Tun at MMC Office: Traders Hotel, Level 3 – Business Centre. Tel: + 95 1 242 828 Fax: + 95 1 242 800 E-mail: khine@tradersyangon.com.mm; thwe@tradersyangon.com.mm.

Travel Trade Industry in Myanmar offer sympathy and support
MMC shares its deepest sympathy for the victims of the Cyclone Nargis and also acknowledges the invaluable humanitarian support and funding provided by the private and individual establishments in the industry.

If you also wish to help in any form of donation in cash or in kind, MMC Office is ready to conduct necessary co-ordination or administration for such. Please contact Khine Wai Thwe or Thwe Thwe Tun at MMC Office: Traders Hotel, Level 3 – Business Centre. Tel: + 95 1 242 828 Fax: + 95 1 242 800 E-mail: khine@tradersyangon.com.mm; thwe@tradersyangon.com.mm.

Here is also some humanitarian news a popular tour operator, Abercrombie & Kent:

OVERVIEW
Following from the update on Friday I thought I would share with you first hand and from the ground the situation in Myanmar one week after the devastating cyclone (equivalent to a hurricane category 4).

On the evening the cyclone struck we had just concluded a two day meeting in Yangon, hosted by A&K Myanmar. There was little or no warning of the impending weather other than news that the airport had closed. The cyclone raced across the Delta area and into Yangon early in the morning of 03 May.

The power of the winds can be seen in the photo of the palm tree with the plank of wood pushed right through it and out the other side. Huge trees were uprooted and thrown into buildings, homes and across roads. Power lines were severely damaged throughout the region.

THE DEVASTATION
The devastation in the Delta has been truly beyond comprehension and more or less every home has been severely damaged or completely destroyed. The lady shown in the photo has lost everything – not only her home but also all her family’s cooking utensils, clothes and possessions.

THE IMPACT
The satellite photos show the Delta before and AFTER the cyclone – the amount of water still lying on the ground is enormous and of course potentially the source of water borne disease.

Families have been split up and young children left without their parents. Many are injured (the injuries shown are caused by people holding onto trees and any other protection they could find as the storm water surged through and debris in the water bruising and cutting them).

The Delta region provides a significant part of the rice eaten in Myanmar and much of the current crop has now been lost. Key to recovery is to ensure that the October planting season can take place to ensure a medium-term stable food supply.

WHAT IS A&K DOING
The A&K Myanmar team has already made one trip to the Delta with supplies of food, blankets, medicines and water and three more trucks are on the way. The photos attached show aid being distributed, children being fed, the provision of blankets and plastic sheeting for people to sleep on in local shelters – from the money raised through A&K thus far.

The A&K team in other parts of the country, supported by the local A&K guides, are purchasing food and cooking oil products locally in places such as Inle Lake and Pagan and transporting this to the Delta, via Yangon. This takes a little longer but avoids the hugely inflated prices being charged by merchants in Yangon – some items have risen by over 500% since the cyclone.

This is another example of the huge benefits of the local A&K infrastructure coming to its own in a time of crisis.

This local ‘micro aid’ is proving extremely impactful and we are continuing with daily deliveries to the most affected areas throughout the Delta. These efforts are all being made in conjunction with the local authorities and agencies.

SUMMARY
Myanmar is a beautiful and lovely country with gentle, graceful and charming people.

I was there during this event purely by chance but for me it has been life enriching experience in many, many ways.

I ask we all take a moment to see what we can do to help support the Burmese people via our A&K Myanmar team – every little bit will help and from Group we will of course ensure we do all we can to keep up the momentum of aid and support.

SIMON
11MAY2008

Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy has donated an additional $10,000 in immediate aid and is coordinating fundraising efforts through Friends of Conservation to enable staff, past travellers and Travel Industry partners to contribute as generously as possible with the knowledge that 100% of all funds collected will go directly to purchasing and distributing life-saving supplies to those most in need.

www.friendsofconservation.org/Donate.htm

With any financial donation, we at In The Know Traveler recommend thoroughly checking out any agency for legitimacy before making a contribution.