Request a Catalog
Asia Transpacific Journeys

Field Report - December 2008

A report from the field by Asia Transpacific Foundation founder Marilyn Downing Staff

Just two weeks ago I was in Myanmar, having the pleasure of assessing the remarkable progress that our Clean Water Initiative has made in these past 12 months, since my last visit. We were pleased to be able to be of great service in the aftermath of the Cyclone Nargis tragedy that hit in May. We were one of the very few organizations, already on the ground in Myanmar, that was authorized to be there, and could provide direct aid to the needy survivors of the tragedy in the Irrawaddy Delta region. Though a combination of our efforts and an outpouring of generosity from our donors, we were able to immediately provide about 20,000 filters to communally-accessible locations, providing clean drinking water to approximately 120,000 people critically in need.

Subsequently, we have used your donations to rebuild our facility in Twante, which was devastated by the cyclone, and return it to full productivity. We have also built a third new filter factory in Pathein, in the heart of the Delta region, and while I was visiting, they very proudly and successfully fired their first kiln of water filters. Having this factory up and running will now enable us to increase our efforts to produce and distribute more filters to schools, hospitals, monasteries and orphanages in this region that is still profoundly impacted by the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

Moving forward, we are in the process of evaluating an appropriate location for our fourth water filter production facility in central Myanmar, near the city of Mandalay. In this area are pottery villages, where generations of craftspeople have made pots for distribution thought out the country. One of these villages will be chosen as the location for our next facility. Already in place are skilled people who understand the craft of working with clay. We will then teach them the specifics of water filter production, provide them with the equipment and the support to get started. Stay tuned for further information on this next project. Because of its location, close to a major city and tourist destination, this facility can be easily visited, and will make an interesting stop for travelers in the area.

As always, my travels in Myanmar were rich beyond words with encounters with old friends, new friends, beautiful places and historic sights. This country, though besieged with a draconian political climate that is invisible to most visitors, remains an enchanting destination and an inspiring example of the resilience of the human spirit. I would encourage any of you, interested in seeing our water filter project first hand, to visit Myanmar. These gracious people will make you very welcome.

Again, thank you for your contributions and your continued interest in this important project.

Best regards,

Marilyn Downing Staff
Founder, Asia Transpacific Foundation