Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink - ThirstAid on the Ground in Myanmar

There are some NGOs that exist on name recognition alone, and then there are those who toil in relatively thankless obscurity. Thirst-Aid is one of those organizations. They've been on the ground in Myanmar for quite some time, bringing self-sufficiency and clean, sanitary water to areas unreached by modern water purification.

Now, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, groups like Thirst-Aid are on the ground, in the country, and leading the way in terms of access and reaching those who need immediate assistance.

From a Thirst-Aid press release today:

Thirst-Aid Is On the Ground Distributing Water Filters

May 6, 2008 – Disaster has struck again. In Myanmar a cyclone has left 22,000 people reported dead with hundreds of thousands more now lacking access to the basic necessities of life; food, shelter, and water. While nations across the globe offer to help, their aid organizations are being held back by the red tape of a despotic government. But there is hope. One organization is uniquely positioned to offer aid, and in fact they already are.

"Thirst-Aid cut its teeth on disaster relief. We were some of the first people on the scene after the 2004 tsunami struck the coast of Thailand. We distributed over 6,000 water filters to marginalized people in a matter of months. Here in Myanmar, we have an entire nation of marginalized people, and a government that has tied its own hands and is unable to respond effectively." Curt Bradner, Thirst-aid's International Project Director explains.

While the UN, UNICEF, Red Cross and other larger aid organizations are being held back by a complex visa process, Thirst-Aid is already inside Myanmar and ready to begin distribution of their unique point of use water filters. "We have one team member, Bryan Berenguer, inside Myanmar. He was there when the cyclone struck and put out the call for us to respond." But Thirst-Aid's position is stronger than just having a person on the inside. "We were granted multiple use entry/exit visas last year. That basically means we can come and go as we please. The rest of our team is in the air and will be inside Myanmar Thursday morning to help ramp up production of filters and oversee the distribution." Says Cathy Bradner, Thirst-Aid's International Project Coordinator

Because Thirst-Aid relies almost completely on local citizens for its workforce and management it is able to respond immediately and effectively to this crisis. "We already have local distribution networks in place, our factories are run by local citizens with government oversight. These people already know what to do, and they're doing it. We are just going in to lend organizational and financial support and make sure that our response is effective."

Eugene residents and Thirst-Aid's International directors, Curt and Cathy Bradner, are on a plane bound for chaos. They are reaching out to the citizens of Eugene in this time of crisis to help raise emergency funds. "$20 can get water to an entire family for a year. $100 can supply a school or monastery, $500 can supply a hospital, $1000 can get water to a small village. In this time of crisis we can really make a difference."

For more information regarding Thirst-Aid and their Disaster Relief inside Myanmar or to donate emergency relief funds contact Bree Ervin, Public Relations Manager, Thirst-Aid at thirstaid2@gmail.com or 541-517-5141

They didn't wait for funding. They didn't wait for Washington to tell them it was OK to go and assist. The folks from Thirst-Aid got on a damn plane, headed to the disaster area from the U.S., and will be distributing water filtration systems by the time the sun goes down in Yangon on Thursday.

Give them a call and make a donation. They could sure use the assist.

Bree Ervin


bldarter@gmail.com said...

I have a list of NGO's and related organization links at
http://relieforganizations.wordpress.com/ . It may be of some help to someone.

Anonymous said...

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