A daytrip by boat for assessment of the situation in Hlwa Zar was quite
a solemn experience. It started appropriately with torrential downpours
while trying to board a local boat for the 3 hour journey to the
location. The population there is around 1242 now with over 500 people
reportedly dying in the cyclone. When we first arrived at the base camp
we were greeted warmly by the local population and our hosts and were
taken for a tour along a nice neat row of make shift tarpaulin shelters
where most of the population were sitting.
As we continued to walk through the town, other sights caught our eyes.
We attracted much company from children and adults who were eager to
share their experiences or explain the situation to us. One man
frantically followed us begging us to go see the Buddhist
temple-another woman wanted to show us the dead body that had not been
buried yet. Waves
of foul smells permeated the air.
Debris and Polluted Water
Beds in what once was the center for pregnant women.
We made our way over fallen trees and through stagnant water to the
school. It too was made of tarpaulin with a shiny new tin roof. Looking
closely the walkways that were mostly mud up to this point were
unusually lined with the brick then we realized it was the brick of the
completely demolished old school. Houses nearby were also completely
destroyed. They took us by ponds which they normally used for drinking
water but had been contaminated by salty water and dead bodies after
The community had been unable to drain the ponds to clean them and was
collecting rain water in large pots off their roofs for drinking water.
One pond had been cleaned out but many in the community were still
afraid to drink from it due to the fact that dead bodies had been found
Unfortunately many of the pots were uncovered and mosquitoes and other
larvae use these areas as a breeding ground increasing the potential
malaria and dengue disease in the future. We continued on the path past
what used to be a sub center where the midwife used to see her pregnant
patients-the house was completely demolished and unrecognizable.