Friends for Burma

Here is some people who have taken an adventure through Thailand and because mother nature sometimes picks on the littlest ones, have taken there vacation and turned into a real helping hand.

We are two Canadians - Nora Dunn & Kelly Bedford - who were vacationing through northern Thailand when we learned of the tragic Cyclone Nargis sweeping through Burma. In fact, the storm narrowly missed us. We are safe and sound, but less than 500kms away from us, there are thousands upon thousands dead, missing, dying, and millions are homeless and at risk of disease. "It could have been us," we thought.

Being so close to this tragedy, we could not continue with our trip, and have effectively canceled our vacation. We hatched an idea to rent a truck, fill it with much needed supplies, and drive it to the Thai/Burma border for inside aid workers to pick up.

Less than 24 hours later, we had established connections with the Chiang Mai Rotary Club and through them the Royal Thai Air Force. We will confirm the details in a meeting tomorrow, but there is talk of procuring us a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft to deliver supplies!

The beauty of this initiative is that while other foreign aid has been refused and caught up in red tape, Burma has been accepting help from its neighbouring allies Thailand, India, and China. We have found a way to funnel our own Canadian dollars, as well as those of family and friends contributing to our cause, directly into a country where aid is so sorely needed, and people are suffering and dying for lack of it.

We are just two Canadians. But we are raising awareness among fellow travelers (who are in turn raising awareness with their own families and friends in their home countries), and many people who otherwise might not have done anything are inspired to rise to the challenge of filling this airplane.

Given the pain and suffering taking place all too close to us, we could not ignore the situation. We are just two, and some say it takes more to make a difference. Then again, one more plane, one more truck, or just one more box full of supplies....could save hundreds if not thousands of lives.

How can we not try?

If this story compells you, then please go to our blog here and make a donation. Even $5 will buy 20 bottles of water for those who are thirsty, hungry, and dying.
We are here, on the ground, and able to make a real difference. No middle men. No agencies. No red tape. No overhead. Just us.

We are gaining media attention for our efforts too. We gave a live interview for the BBC yesterday, and national Canadian newspapers are putting together stories. Travelers have taken our initiative to their own respective country media outlets too. This is real travel. Networking in a country where you can't even figure out how to order a coffee, much less put together a huge life-saving operation. And seeing how other travelers, and the world can come together in the face of a hopeless situation to make a difference, no matter how big or small.

Stories of the military seizing goods and marking them with their names abound. Does that mean we should throw our hands up in the air and declare the situation hopeless? It is estimated that 1.5 million people could die as a result of a severe lack of aid, and the insurgence of disease which is already taking hold. Now that's what I call hopeless.

I don't care whose name is on the box. I care about the people who will benefit from the goods inside the box. I hope you do too.