Following on from the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis in Burma at the end of last week relief agencies are trying to help. The storm tracked across the Irrawaddy Delta leaving anything from 20,000 up to 100,000 or more dead in its wake. Unfortunately the military junta who have ruled the oppressed Burmese for well over forty years are making things difficult for would be helpers. The latest I've heard is that they are prepared to take relief supplies from other parts of the World providing they can distribute it themselves. It's become abundantly clear that the clique who run this country cannot adequately do the job and need western expertise. I also read that Burma's government had been given a couple of days warning by India's Met Office of the likely track of the storm but really didn't help their people prepare for this calamity. It would be absolutely fair to say that thousands more have lost their lives because of the neglect of this deplorable regime.
On a more positive note it is good to hear that Cornish based charity 'ShelterBox' is on the scene with hundreds of their boxes either arrived or in transit to Burma. Four of their response team are over there and have secured visas so hopefully things will now kick on. A reminder that the ShelterBox Trust was set up by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard and has helped about half a million people in 70 plus disaster areas. At the time of the Asian Tsunami 'ShelterBox' really caught the imagination of the public and in a way, I think, no other relief organisation has done before. Interestingly as a charity it seems to be able to gain access to certain semi closed societies - witness the fact that it helped North Korea in its hour of need not so long ago.
It's possible to read a lot more about 'Shelterbox' by going to their website here. The average all in cost of one box is £490 and this is for a family of 10. I like the way the site breaks this down to some of its elements, for example £8 buys a pair of mosquito nets. So it's possible to get a real sense of what your donation can do. Yes it's a truly fantastic charity.