Myanmar’s annual rainy season is from May to October. Low lying areas see flooding every year, but due to new construction without adequate drainage, a build-up of debris blocking drainage systems due to lack of maintenance, and an extremely heavy rainfall in a brief period of time, this year areas around Mandalay in central Myanmar have suffered from worse flooding than usual.
Families have been forced to move their belongings up to the second floors of their homes. Waste water mixing with the flood waters has caused wide-spread skin infections and gastrointestinal illness.
Alumni from World Learning’s Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (iPACE) in Mandalay — who are all community leaders and activists — wanted to help those in need, and organized a fundraising effort by connecting with their fellow alumni through Facebook and over the telephone. The group quickly raised over $800 US for supplies needed in communities in the flood zones.
With donated trucks, the team was able to purchase and deliver rice and canned fish to distribute to families in need. They also distributed packets of water purifying powder provided by World Vision to help reduce digestive diseases caused by unclean drinking water.
The iPACE volunteers distributed food to 520 affected households and credited the World Learning program with connecting them to other civically minded activists.
“We think about the knowledge we’ve learned through iPACE courses, but the professional network we’ve built and friendships we’ve made are another way that iPACE has helped me to help my country,” one alum said.
iPACE is made possible by a generous grant from the U.S. Embassy, Rangoon.