After one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Burma, Venerable Bhante Wimala was able to travel into the heart of the disaster area to help those who were affected.
In April 2008 when a killer cyclone swept through southern Burma, close to one hundred thousand people lost their lives and several million people lost their homes and belongings. It was one of the worst disasters in the country wiping out many villages completely and causing unspeakable pain, suffering and trauma to millions of innocent victims.
The military rulers of Burma refused direct involvement by any governmental or non-governmental organization. The International community was outraged when requests from leaders around the world were rejected and aid workers trying to enter into the country with relief supplies were refused entry.
In an amazing, but not surprising, synchronicity, Bhante was invited to Myanmar while attending a conference in the area. When Bhante arrived in the country he was the only foreigner in the country who was coordinating some of the relief efforts.
As Bhante explains: “When I arrived already two weeks had passed and in one village dead bodies were still floating in the rivers and fields. With the help of three other monks I coordinated and sponsored burning and burying the dead bodies. It was one of the saddest and one of the most challenging times in my life”.
There was a big shortage of food, shelter and basic needs. Bhante was able to organize distribution of rice, cooking oil and other basic needs to over 400 families in several villages. His relief efforts ended when he ran out of money and could not transfer any money into the country to support his efforts.
Bhante explains a bit of his feelings about the experience:?I saw endless needs and very little help was coming into some areas. What is the use of me being there when I see hungry people and I do not have money to feed them? I tried everything possible to get more money into the country but when all efforts failed I had to leave Myanmar.”
“I was not happy about that. It was a painful decision because I felt that I had to leave everything half done. But I am glad I went there and did everything in my power and spent every penny I had to help them. Let me keep the sadness because I could not continue to help them. I would like to share with you the joy of what I could do to help so many people. Let us continue our work to bring peace and relief to those less fortunate and those who suffer unnecessarily in this world.”
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