Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sitagu Sayadaw, Ma Ba Tha raise millions

By Aung Kyaw Min   |   Thursday, 06 August 2015
A flood relief committee established by prominent monk Sitagu Sayadaw has raised more than K325 milliion, including K80 million from ethnic Kokang and Palaung rebels.
The committee said yesterday it had received donations of K50 million from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and K30 million from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
Sitagu Sayadaw Ashin Nyanissara set up the committee on August 2 to assist with the relief effort once the full impact of the flooding became apparent.
One of his followers said it was only in early August that the severity of the flooding was realised.
“At first I didn’t think the flooding was too bad and didn’t pay much attention. But then the problems got bigger and bigger,” said Ashin Kawvida Siri, one of the monks involved in the committee.
Meanwhile, the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion – better known by its Myanmar-language acronym Ma Ba Tha – has provided tens of thousands of dollars of aid to flood-affected areas, senior officials say.
The organisation is also working with other religious and charity groups, as well as Buddhist monasteries, to coordinate their donation efforts, central committee member Ashin Sopaka said.
The group has raised almost K40 million so far for flood victims, he said.
“In each area, coordination committees have been formed in collaboration with the regional authorities, members of Ma Ba Tha and local community leaders,” he said.
“When we are about to go to a region, we have to contact the residents to hear and prepare for what they need,” he said. “Mainly we are donating money, but also clothes, food and instant noodles.”
Another senior Ma Ba Tha member, U Wirathu, said delivering aid had been very difficult in some areas.
“Some regions we can go to only with airplanes. Roads from the towns to the villages are blocked or destroyed, so the only way we can go is byhelicopter.”
Conditions in many areas are dire, he added.
“A lot of people haven’t drunk any water. I am afraid they will die from hunger rather than the flooding. It is the government’s responsibility [to help them] – they need to make sure that every village is reached.”
The Tatmadaw has helped Ma Ba Tha transport aid from Yangon to Sittwe for distribution, another leading monk in the organisation said yesterday.

Translation by Kyawt Darly Lin
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