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Quake damaged parish pleads for food

Survivors of 6.8 quake now face cold, rain and hunger as church rescue efforts continue

Quake damaged parish pleads for food reporter, Yangon

March 30, 2011

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Parishioners, the parish priest and nuns from a parish badly hit by last week's earthquake in northeast Myanmar, say they are in "urgent" need of food and shelter. The parish priest of Mong Lin, Fr. Anthony Paul, said today "not only our people living in the Church compound but those who have lost their houses are sleeping in makeshift tents without roofs as the roof thatches are very hard to get." It is unusually cold and rains every day like the rainy season, he said. "I do really worry for the health of the victims as they have to sleep in unsafe tents.” “What we really need at the moment are food and shelter,” said Sr. Natalina Misa from the Sisters of Charity congregation and superior of St. Bartholemea’s Convent in Mong Ling parish. Sr. Misa said all the shops were destroyed by the quake and they couldn’t buy food. Makeshift tents are not wind or rain-proof, so victims risk health problems in the near future. Susana Khin Mar Oo, a housewife in Mong Lin parish, said: “The most needed (thing) for us is food, shelter and our church as our Church was damaged by the earthquake.” She said she had received some food, kitchen wares, blankets and medications from some aid groups and private local donors. Most of the villagers - both victims and non-victims - are afraid to enter buildings in case of another quake, said Khin Mar. Cleaning up the damaged church is also a big challenge for the parishioners and the parish priest. “About 25 volunteers came on the first day, and then 50, and today about 100 volunteers came for help to clean up the compound. It may take more days as we can use only manual labour and were unable to use machines,” Fr. Paul said yesterday. On March 27, the parishioners had to attend the Sunday mass in the Sisters of Charity nuns’ chapel. Fr. Paul said the Holy Trinity Church, boarding house, the old clergy house, dining structure for the boarding students, Church bells and the compound wall bricks were badly damaged during the earthquake. Two boys living in the compound were found dead under the collapsed building. Fr. Paul said that although those living on the main road and good communication areas usually get help from aid groups, very few came to us for help. Only our friends and relatives who really know our situation came for help as we are far away from the main areas. Sr. Misa said tearfully that she had asked her nephew from Yangon to come and help. "He stayed with us not even one year and now I’m very sad to see his dead body under the rubble." Angela from Kengung Karuna Social Service said she is now helping a seriously injured victim in Kyaingtong hospital. She went with the victim to ensure better treatment. MY13796.1647

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