Saturday, May 24, 2008

Burma Cyclone

Timing is critical because the aftermath of Burma's cyclone could kill more than a million people in the next few weeks. The UN estimates that at least 100,000 have already died and 220,000 more are missing. Even before the natural disaster, Burma had the second worst health system in the world and suffered from what UNICEF called, a "silent humanitarian emergency."

Now in the wake of the cyclone, the desperate cries are louder. Those who have survived lost their houses. Without shelter or a viable source of income, survivors are dying slowly from malnutrition, diarrhea, cholera, and other infectious diseases.

Yet in the face of immense suffering, there is hope. The courage and compassion of the Burmese people find strength in the local volunteers who refuse to let the desperate cries for aid grow louder. Expatriate Burmese physicians are flocking home to aid in a quiet relief effort. Local church groups house and feed the refugees who lost their homes in the storm. Senior monks have also joined the cause, gaining access to the hardest hit regions such as Bogale to distribute food, water, and medicine. Even though volunteers do not have much themselves, thousands of people across Burma are donating whatever they can to the victims of the cyclone.

Working through vast community networks, these Burmese groups can reach victims inaccessible to international aid workers. Your donation is crucial to their work. Please visit the following websites to donate to local relief efforts and ensure that 100% of your donation reaches the victims:

1. Better Burmese Health Care (http://www.betterburmesehealthcare) : Eight teams consisting of 20 doctors & 20 non medical volunteers are providing acute medical care as well as surveillance to prevent outbreak of infectious diseases. To date we have treated over 2000 patients. We are also focusing on heavily damaged areas in the Delta region where there has been little or no assistance. We are closely collaborating with our partners both inside and outside Burma. This will allow for distribution of Water Purification tabs and Anti Malaria & Cholera, other essential medications & other basic necessities.

2. Burmese Buddhist Association ( : Working through a monastic network that extends everywhere in Burma, monks can gather volunteers and distribute food, medical supplies, construction equipment, clothes, water and other necessities to victims of the cyclone.

3. Burma Relief Network ( BRN is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care, medical education & training, relief and development programs in Burma/Myanmar. In lieu of large NGOs and organizations, BRN takes advantage of local physicians and nurses through pre-established professional networks to reach those needing immediate medical care. Operating in the delta region outside of Yangon, these local physicians will be sent to different villages in small mobile teams, utilizing their familiarity with the region and tropical medicine to give the most effective medical care and aid.

The greatest obstacle to distributing aid in Burma is the barring of aid workers (both foreign and Burmese) in entering affected regions and the repossession of aid supplies. This will be bypassed by the fact that the program will be using physicians and healthcare personnel already outside of Yangon. Mobile teams also possess familiarity and experience in the country and the delta region; these groups will be able to get in and out of the most-affected villages to treat those who most need medical care. The advantage of familiarity also enables more informed decisions when dealing with medical aid distribution and health care prioritization.

Field/Mobile Teams:

  • Led by experienced local Physicians
  • Equipped with minor surgery, orthopedic supplies, IV fluids and antibiotics
  • Able to see 120 - 150 patients a day
  • Composed of 6-8 members
  • Equipped with all necessities to function in a remote area
  • Managed by experienced physicians and professionals supported by BRN

Please email: to join our mailing list and receive updates about the relief efforts in Burma. Although individually we cannot help the thousands of orphans and families who lost their livelihoods, we can join our efforts to help rebuild communities in Burma. The scale of the disaster affects millions of lives and requires our long term support.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fundraiser to help victims of Burma's cyclone

On Saturday, May 10th, 12pm - 4pm
the Harvard Burma Action Movement and YoMa restaurant will be holding a fundraiser to support disaster relief efforts in Burma, following the cyclone that is the biggest natural disaster to happen in Asia since the tsunami. According to the New York Times, the cyclone killed between 3,900 and 15,000 people, and another 30,000 went missing.

“Stories get worse by the hour,” one Yangon resident, who did not want to be identified for fear of government retribution, said in an e-mail message. “No drinking water in many areas, still no power. Houses completely disappeared. Refugees scavenging for food in poorer areas. Roofing, building supplies, tools — all are scarce and prices skyrocketing on everything.” (see:

As one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and ranked 190 out of 191 countries in its ability to provide healthcare (World Health Organization), Burma is especially vulnerable to the devastating effects of the cyclone.

We will be selling Burmese art, professionally designed t-shirts from Heroics clothing company, and handmade crafts to fund relief efforts.

Please go to YoMA restaurant on May 10th:
5 N Beacon St
(between Brighton Ave & Cambridge St)
Allston, MA 02134 (617) 783-1372 Or visit: to donate directly.

More pictures of damages in Yangon are below,%20Sunday/index.html

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Well, we had phenomenal acoustic concert fundraiser on that oh-so-cold December 15th evening. Thank you to Cat Tuttle, Jon Jackson, Chris Jackson, and Katie Fitzgerald for the incredible performances! I think everyone in attendance can agree that we were truly blessed to have amazing performers in our midst! We raised over $1000 during that evening and the days to follow, so thank you to all who donated. We promise to have gingerbread men with red arm bands at the next BAM event for all who enjoyed.

A few HUGE thank you’s are due for all the local companies who donated for that evening. Without the gifts and food we certainly wouldn’t have raised the money we did, and we plain old wouldn’t have had as much fun getting into the holiday spirit; thus, a word from our sponsors: Thank you to Little Tibet at 1174 Mass. Ave in Cambridge for the necklaces; Tibet Arts Gallery ( at 1925 Mass. Ave in Cambridge for the prayer bead bracelets and incense; and Bodhi Tree: Art of Gentle Living at 1684 Mass. Ave ( for the beautiful Buddha sculpture. We can attest to the fact that these are great Tibetan stores whose owners all have wonderful hearts. Their products are dope, and they’re all in very close proximity to our fine campus. We chose them very selectively. Check them out. Next, thank you to the best Cambridge based cafes: Mariposa Bakery at 424 Mass. Ave for all the Apple Cider; Simon’s Coffee Shop at 1736 Mass. Ave for the coffee, and Darwin’s Ltd. at 148 Mount Auburn St. for the hot chocolate mix (they’re famous for it.) Again, all somewhere in between Central Square, Harvard Square, and Porter Square, all with great vibes, people, and delicious food/drink/music. We chose them equally selectively.

There we have it. We really couldn’t have done it without everyone involved. So support these local businesses and tell them how great the fundraiser was, then tell the artists how much you enjoyed their music when you see them perform again, and then pat yourselves on the back for helping out Aung Za Bu Monastery School as much as you did. Gosh, humans rock.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Planning for Speaker Panel Event

*Upcoming in early 2008: Panel Discussion with leading academic experts and diplomats about what the international community can do to support Burma
-US State Department Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
-UN Human Rights Rapporteur to Burma (Myanmar) Sergio Pinheiro
-Amnesty International Asia Director T. Kumar

*in collaboration with Harvard Law School Burma Campaign and Amnesty International

Holiday Fundraiser to Support Education in Burma

Why Supporting Educaiton Programs is Important

Due to decades of neglect, under-funding, suppression of academic freedom, and periodic school closings, the educational system in Burma is rapidly deteriorating. A UNICEF survey conducted in 1995 found that 39% of school age children have never attended primary school while 26% of the parents said they could not afford the cost of schooling.[1] For students who are able to attend school, the poverty of the education system is compounded by the lack of facilities, assess to information, and unqualified and underpaid teachers. Knowledge and especially critical thinking is perceived as dangerous to the military regime, the State Peace and Development Council. Crucial for Burma’s transition to an open, democratic society is to overcome the challenges of building up the education system and laying the groundwork to foster civil society. The training program for volunteer teachers aims to both promote civil society networks as well as encourage critical thinking courses in monastic schools.

In the beginning of March 2006, five student volunteers from U Mya Kyaing English School (U Tun Lin Chan Street, Hledan Township) and I developed and taught an ESL course for 200 students in Aung Za Bu Monastery. A detailed chronicle of our activities can be found at: &
Established on April 22, 1990, Aung Za Bu Monastery School strives to support orphans, children of broken homes, and children from families too poor to attend school. Most families in the villages surrounding the monastery are subsistence farmers who earn less than $1 a day. Because of their poverty and isolation, few villagers have the opportunity to further their education in high school or university. To give the next generation of students the opportunity to improve their lives, Aung Za Bu Monastery School provides education free of charge to students in kindergarten through 8th standard. The monastery school also provides free textbooks, pencils, and stationary to over 700 boys and girls who come from more than 10 different surrounding villages in Kormou.
Of the 700 local students, 200 students from the 7th, 8th, and 9th standards are taking supplementary ESL classes provided by the student volunteers from U Mya Kyaing School. The ESL program is held from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday and is successfully continuing since its inception in March, 2006.
The mission of the school is to:
Give free education and provide the children with a solid foundation for the rest of lives
Cultivate the children’s courage, morality, and self confidence
Support those who have been abandoned and show them how they can follow their dreams
Muslims, Christians, Hindus--students of all religions and ethnicities study at Aung Za Bu because the school provides secular education that matches the public school curriculum.
Because Aung Za Bu relies soley charitable donations for its programs, your help is essential to ensuring that these children can continue to learn. By supporting education, you change a child's life and provide the foundation so that children can change their society. Your donations would go to the Endowment Fund that would allow Aung Za Bu Monastery to become self sustainable. For each $400 we raise, we can buy 1 acre of land. The land will be used to cultivate bamboo, a fast growing plant which can be used for food, shelter, and furniture. Your one-time donation will go to the purchasing of bamboo fields that provide a continuous source of revenue for the school. For more information about the Endowment Fund and the daily expenses of the monastery, please visit the Donation page: (

Tell Congressmen to Freeze the Assests of the Burmese Military Junta

What the Act Does:
The regime makes hundreds of millions of dollars each year off thesale of gems. More than 90 percent of the world's rubies andfine-quality (Imperial) jade comes from Burma. The new sanctions willcrack down on the regime's practice of avoiding U.S. sanctions bylaundering gemstones through third countries before they are sold.
This Act also freezes the assets of Burmese political and militaryleaders, prevents Burma from using U.S. financial institutions viathird countries to launder the funds of those leaders or theirimmediate families, and prohibits Burmese officials involved in theviolent suppression of protesters from receiving visas to the UnitedStates.
"This legislation will turn off a huge cash spigot for the thuggishBurmese regime," Lantos said. "If my colleagues come together and actquickly to pass these new sanctions, we can put an end to huge profitsfor the junta and its unscrupulous middle-men. We must ensure that thesale of some of the Earth's most beautiful natural resources does notcontinue to enable the horrors inflicted upon the people of Burma."
Burma also uses third countries to access the U.S. banking system.These overseas banks process accounts in and through the United Statesfor Burma's rulers, providing the regime with much-needed hardcurrency. The regime uses these funds to purchase weapons and luxurygoods, while the bulk of Burma's population lives in poverty.
Lantos' legislation tightens existing sanctions to prevent Burma'smilitary rulers from profiting from sales to the United States, andblocks access to the U.S. financial system not just for Burmese humanrights violators but also to those who provide the regime with bankingservices.
The Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2007,if passed, would be the strongest action yet that the U.S. takes topressure Burma's military regime to negotiate with Burma's democracyleaders and ethnic nationalities.
What to do:
As constituents, it is only your voice that will inspire yourrepresentative to co-sponsor this bill, better enabling it to pass inCongress. If you do not know, to find out whom your individualrepresentative is go to and type in your zipcode in the"Find your representative" box in the top left corner of the screen.
Once you know whom your representative is - use the list below tocontact your representative's Foreign Affairs staffer (the numbers foreach one for every office are at the bottom of this email). If s/he isnot there leave a message and ask her/him to call you back. Call todayand call every day until you get an answer!
Below is a series of talking points that can guide your conversation,as well as the information the staff will need to become a co-sponsorof the Bill.
Talking Points for Staffer:- Tell the staffer you want your representative to co-sponsor theBlock Burmese JADE Act of 2007- Give her/him proof that this policy works. It cuts off hundreds ofmillions of dollars to the regime and will specifically target the topgenerals' finances.- Mention that the military junta still deserves sanctions. On top ofbrutally crushing thousands of peaceful demonstrators, includingmonks, the military regime has destroyed more than 3,000 villages. Ithas forcibly displaced more than half a million people inside Burma aswell as causing a million refugees to flee across the border toneighboring countries and has made no efforts to move towarddemocracy.- Let her/him know it is important to send a strong signal to theregime that the US government will continue to keep American money outthe hands of the junta.- This is not the only action being taken against Burma. On top ofmany diplomatic efforts, the EU has imposed new sanctions, as well asAustralia, and even Japan has decreased aid to Burma.- Finally ask the staffer to call you back when your representativehas co-sponsored the Block Burmese JADE Act. Important: Leave yourphone number!Let him/her know that his/her constituents care about Burma!
To add their name as a cosponsor:Let them know that to co-sponsor they should contact Eric Richardsonat the Committee on Foreign Affairs office or 225-5021.
Check up to see if they cosponsor:It's easy to check and see if they follow through and agree tocosponsor. THOMAS, the Library of Congress' congressional recordsdatabase updates a list of all information on legislation. Click onthis link to find out who has signed as cosponsors.
Thank you all for your vigilance. We must do everything we can tosupport the people of Burma during these uncertain times. If you haveany questions or ideas, feel free to contact me