The ANU Myanmar Students’ Association (ANUMSA) held their “Saving Myanmar from Flood” event in Union Court on Monday 10th August.

Since June of this year, Myanmar (previously known as Burma) has been subject to widespread, monsoonal flooding which has caused significant destruction across the country. The damage was further exacerbated by Cyclone Komen, which cut a swathe through the country last week.

Up to one million people have been affected by the floods, with over 100 being killed according to the Myanmar government.

Chit Win, president of the Myanmar Students’ Association (MSA) and a PhD candidate with a significant background in Myanmar affairs, told Woroni reporters that up to 50% of Myanmar was now flooded. Mr Win’s background includes being a Deputy Director from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw and oversaw Myanmar – Thailand boundary affairs before coming to Australia.

“The MSA feels that we should do something to help those in need,” he said.
He added that many students in the MSA have been affected by the flooding, either personally or otherwise. Some students expressed that family members had been forced to flee their homes, while others, like some of Mr Win’s fellow PhD colleagues researching Myanmar, found that certain areas they had recently visited were completely wiped out by the floods.

“You can feel the emotions [from the disaster],” he said.

The fundraiser event was held from 9am to 1pm outside the Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS), where volunteers from the MSA handed out flyers providing information on the floods. Free food was provided to students as they passed by.

“We’re trying to promote public awareness and also the raising of funds online by distributing chicken coconut noodle soup, one of our Myanmar favourite dishes, and rice cake free of charge to the students. All the cooking and ingredients are provided by ANUMSA, and the GAC also contributed to the funding.”

A donation box was set up amongst the free food.

Mr Win stated that there were three main objectives behind the fundraiser event. The first was to provide intellectual input in regards to disaster management. The second objective was to raise awareness of the floods both within and outside the ANU campus, given its limited exposure in international media. The third objective was to send all proceeds raised to Myanmar.

Though an emotional subject, Mr Win showed cheerful spirit while being interviewed.

When questioned on the turnout to the event, Mr Win pointed out that it was lunch time and free food was being provided.

“This is the place for distributing free food,” he laughed, “so we tried to choose the place quite strategically.”

Further details about ANUMSA’s campaign and donations can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/anumsa