A night at the Orphanage with Cyclone Nargis

This post is an account of a night spent at Safe Haven Orphanage on the Thailand Burma border as Cyclone Nargis passed by North West of us. If you would like to make a donation to the victims of the Cyclone inside Burma – please do so at Givetoburma.org.

Last week I headed to Mae Sot for a few days to conduct a training course and catch up with some friends. On Saturday, five of us decided to hire a pick-up truck and head 150KM North up the Thailand/Burma border to Safe Haven Orphanage.

It had poured down in Mae Sot at about 2am on Saturday morning, and the rain showed no sign of abating. We arrived at Safe Haven at about 3pm on Saturday, and dashed between muddy puddles for the nearest house to avoid another soaking.

Tasanee and the children from Safe Haven Orphanage moved onto their new land shortly before Christmas. The land is located next to the river marking the border between Thailand and Burma, and when I made the trip there with my sister during our motorbike epic last December, Tasanee was frantically directing the assembly of the first wooden house so that the children could move in by Christmas.

This time, there were 4 or 5 mainly wooden Karen-style structures in various stages of completion – the beginning of a new settlement. All the buildings were raised on wooden stilts, with leaf & bamboo roofs.

Cyclone Nargis path map - Thailand & Burma

At about 4pm on Saturday afternoon the rain really started hammering down, and seemed to be flying past the valley sides with an almost horizontal trajectory. We didn’t think too much of it at this point – it was more of an inconvenience because it meant we couldn’t play with the children outside. Looking for something to do, we decided to head into the neighbouring village to buy some sweets for the children, and 15 minutes later discovered the road we had entered the village by had been blocked by a falling tree and power lines it had brought down.

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