Myanmar Cyclone: Reconstruction of Schools (Part 2)

The Japanese Red Cross Society has been supporting the Cyclone Nargis Recovery Program managed by the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS). The School Reconstruction Project which was started in April, 2009 is part of that recovery program. Some schools have been steadily completed as the beginning of new school year nears in June. The following is an update on the project from Ms. Yuko Tanaka Amada, our representative in Myanmar.

Reinforcement of Regional Disaster Prevention

School completed at Labutta Township

School completed in Labutta Township ©MRCS

MRCS started the reconstruction of 84 schools after laying the cornerstone in the Pyapon Township. The members of the Construction Management Committee at the village level and the villagers always continue working with high motivation. “We go and see the construction site everyday. We monitor the site 24 hours a day. This school will be strongest building in the village. Our dream of finishing school construction early is coming true,” they commented with joy. In each village, MRCS and the local villagers collaborate in monitoring the program as well as other work, such as the maintenance of sidewalks from the school gate to the new school in preparation for the rainy season.

JRCS representative tests the tube well pump with village committee members

Yuko testing the tube well pump in Dedaye Township with the village committee members ©MRCS

Among seven townships, the construction of five schools in the Dedaye Township started the earliest with the newest school being completed in February, 2010 in the village of Than Di Thea Kone Ka Lay. The villagers there had a tough time when the cyclone struck. A high tide of 1.5m wreaked havoc on the village, killing 71 people, destroying homes and the school, and more than 70 villagers were evacuated to a house with cramped conditions. “Geographically, it is very probable that our village will get caught in a high tide again. The new school with a floor 1.5m off the ground will give our children a safe and comfortable educational environment,” the MRCS Hub Manager of the Dedaye Township commented with a smile. As the children study at a monastery with limited space and without desks and chairs at the moment, the teachers are looking forward to the new school year and seeing the completion of the school with spacious classrooms.

Monitoring

Some 21 engineers stationed in the construction sites monitor work on 84 schools daily. They monitor if the construction is following design plans, the quality control of materials and so on. At the same time, they deal with reports and requests from villages, schools, and construction companies at the field level. They need physical strength as well to bear 8-hour-a-day boat-rides since most construction sites are in remote areas accessible only by boat. They sometimes even give up their weekend holidays and visit the sites as they keep working energetically towards the early completion of schools for children and villagers.

Voices of engineers

Engineers of Myanmar Red Cross Society

Engineers of Myanmar Red Cross Society ©MRCS

“I used to work in Nay Pyi Taw, but I came to Ayeyarwady with a strong will to support victims of Cyclone Nargis. After adjusting myself here, I have spent a fulfilling time everyday.” (Ms. Hay Mar Soe, engineer in Kyaiklat Township)

“I am very happy and honored to be involved in this recovery project as I was born and grew up in Ayeyarwady where 140,000 lives were lost in the cyclone. I really appreciate the support of Japanese people.” (Ms. Maw Maw Thu, engineer in Mawlamyinegyun Township)