Trip of May 31st 


Dear Aunty K,

This is Thamee.  (Thamee means 'daughter'.  Burmese call each other by familial terms, even when unrelated; and one refers to oneself by name or familial term according to age differences.)  I am writing to tell you about the trip we made to KyunGale (Little Island) Village, which is reachable by boat from Twante.

We could not find a car to rent (from Yangon) so in the end a friend took us.  We rode in the back of the Sunny (it has a roof).  Our group consisted of 5 doctors, plus U M's nephew, a brother of a medical colleague (who had sent medicine along with us), her husband, altogether 8 of us.

When we got to Twante, our friend's friend organised a motorboat (a local boat with motor attached).  Only in Twante, we bought the rice we wanted to donate (rice is more expensive in Yangon).  In Yangon we had bought packets of salt for donating, also PN kit and Dignity kit for pregnant women and new mothers, enough kits for 50 women.

At the approach to Twante, there is TaWa Village, much damaged by the cyclone : houses without roofs or screens on their sides.  We saw the poor children.  In Twante, I organised for the buying of 'Good Morning' (small goodies) for the kids, to be given on our way back.  Our plans were for KyunGale, and we had not known in advance of TaWa Village, so we could only organise something small for the kids in TaWa when we reached Twante.

We had drinks and snacks in Twante and continued our journey by boat.  It was raining very hard.  It took about two hours by boat.  All the way, we saw villages with ruined houses, no roofs, pillars askew, or fallen down.

When we reached KyunGale, we decided to set up ourselves next to the monastery, in the school room, for treating patients and for the distribution of rice and other donations.  It would have taken more time to go all the way into the village proper. All the villagers were waiting for us.  There was someone who had been waiting since the morning, who had been cut by bamboo.  The tendons of the foot had been cut, there was a lot of blood.  With the help of a young male doctor, I stitched up the patient.

The school room had only the side screens left, it had lost all its roof.  On the school benches, we put the patients.  The doctors sat on chairs.  This is how we had to give treatment.  At least the benches were long ones!

As soon as we finished with one lot of patients, more came from the queue.  Some of us distributed the rice, some of us gave out the other donations.  We were not aware that it was already after 5pm.  Only when some one said that we must leave by 5.30 (it gets dark early and very quickly in the tropics), that we had to get ready to leave, did I realise the time.

As we were packing up, a young girl came.  She had fallen, the sole of her foot was very badly gashed, quite deeply too.  We could not leave her.  So I continued and stitched her foot up.

When we came out of the village, it was after 6 o'clock.  It was pouring down with rain.  It was after 8pm when we reached Twante.  We ate in a food shop and set back for Yangon.  It was 11pm when we got home.

The village that we went to was a Karen village.  We were told that there were 270 households.  We distributed rice and salt to all of them.  This time, we had not taken clothes for them.  Only there, the wish to donate clothes arose in our hearts.

All along the way by boat are ruined houses.  A lot of pagodas with broken finials as well.

The village I mentioned before, TaWa village, is also very poor.  We had come this way, and so saw this village, only because of a broken bridge.  If we had come along the intended route, we would have missed it.  I was even thinking on the boat, that I wanted to donate rice to them, but it was already pitch dark.  There was no electricity, no lights on from Twante, I think people could not even afford candles.  They would have just gone to sleep in the dark.

Are you and your family well?  I will send you email again.  My email address is ...

In remembrance, MaH