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Field Notes: Wendy's Assessment Trip to Hlwa Zar

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.
 debri2
Fallen trees.

Debris and Polluted Water

hospital
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 storm.

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 there.


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.

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