Although we didn’t personally meet with the Royal Thai Air Force today as hoped, we have received reports that they do not currently have permission to fly into Burma directly from Chiang Mai. They are in contact with their top people in Bangkok to attain permission.
Failing that, we are looking at either flying the supplies out of Bangkok, or using Royal Thai Air Force-supplied trucks to deliver the supplies from Chiang Mai. We would prefer to continue to base our operations here out of Chiang Mai, because we believe that we are in a unique position to stimulate the Chiang Mai economy, gather the support of the big business owners here, and heck – we are closer to the devastation in Burma here…it just makes more sense.
We have a meeting scheduled for 12noon tomorrow (Wednesday) with the Chiang Mai Rotary Club to discuss everything further.
Should things completely fall apart with the Royal Thai Air Force (which we doubt will happen), we are working on a few Plan Bs:
1) The Chiang Mai Rotary Club has made a commitment to do whatever they possibly can for us. They make up some of the most powerful and famous people in this region of Thailand, so we believe they know how to get stuff done. One of the members owns the largest trucking company in the area, if not the country; they will give us trucks. Others have leads on where to buy supplies. We have the utmost faith that they will come through in amazing ways for us.
2) We have made contact with the Red Cross in Thailand, which is run by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. She has already expressed her support for Burma by donating 20 tons of food, supplies, generators, and water purifiers. So we expect that with her connections and power, she (and the Thailand Red Cross) can help. The Red Cross is one of the few organizations in Burma that are making direct distributions.
3) We are cultivating relationships with a few small organizations within Burma that are doing effective work. It is a long, slow process (as you can imagine, they have bigger fish to fry than to sit in an office and respond to our emails and phone calls!), but we are using our tenacious passion to keep the irons in the fire.
4) We continue to rely on the success of the Shelterbox program in getting much-needed supplies into Burma. It is an amazing program, and if we are unable to personally direct the funds, we will contribute to this initiative.
In other news…we ARE the news! Last night we conducted an interview with the Toronto Star. Shy of posing the question “why are you so obsessed with this” (obsessed? Sheesh – that’s harsh), the interview generally went well.
We hope they got from it that we are doing all this work because we have never been so close to such a tragic event, and saw an opportunity to make a tangible difference. The snowball got big and is rolling down the hill at quite a clip; how can we not keep trying?
And Canadians: Watch CBC at 6pm tonight for a story on our project! We did an interview on the phone, and they will be getting an on-camera interview today from friends in Toronto who are actively supporting us in a number of ways.
Oh yeah – and will somebody please tape it for us? We’d love to see it sometime…it’s a bit of a commute for us at the moment…
And Vagabondish has also taken notice of our efforts….you can read our story here.
Personally and emotionally, exhaustion has taken a firm hold. This is extremely draining; like nothing we’ve experienced before. It would be nice to forget all this ever happened and go back to being on vacation. I walked by somebody earlier who was reading a book in a hammock….how I wish I could do that!
Putting words into coherent sentences is getting increasingly difficult. News of China’s earthquake is tragic. Destruction seems to be on all sides of us. And sadly and selfishly, we are afraid that the media spotlight will be taken off Burma because of this, and even more people will suffer. It’s just not fair to the millions of people in Burma who need the world’s support, and have had so many strikes against them in the last week and a half.
As if in sympathy for our fatigue, the skies opened up and cried down on us today. And so begins the rainy season here in Thailand. We have to get used to getting very wet. At least it seems to be a sort of emotional release, as we see the waterworks turn on.
We are just two Canadians, like anybody else. We just happened to be close to the tragedy when it struck. Our project to do a little good got big, and we’re hanging on for our lives, managing each opportunity and crisis as it comes. We have the skills and connections to make this happen, without a doubt.
Support ebbs and flows from those we know, which is probably one of the hardest things to wrap our heads around. Some of the least expected people have come out with the greatest support (both emotional and financial), and some of the places and people we expected (even relied) on it coming from have been non-existent.
Despite our highest confidence in being able to do this job, we are still just two Canadians. We are scared, we feel very alone at times, and really – we just want to go back to life as it was.
But that is not in the cards for us. Please keep good thoughts for us, and if you haven’t already done so, please support our cause.