Nway’s* family were not out of the ordinary for their delta village: a family of six living in a little wood and bamboo house built in a rice paddy. They earned their living growing rice. When, on 2 May, winds grew and strengthened, Nway was staying with her aunt, in a wooden house on stilts beside the village’s main road.
The wind started blowing in the late afternoon, but no one suspected that anything other than a normal thunderstorm was brewing.
Within a few hours, sea water began rising; the winds grew more ferocious.
After dark, and following a few hours of tearing wind and rain, the storm slowed. Most houses in the villages had lost their roofing and in some places, the flood water was up to over 1.5 metres. Residents thought the worst was over. But after half an hour's reprieve, the winds returned from a different direction. They were fiercer this time.
"As our house started breaking down, my aunt took me to the house of the village head," recalled nine-year-old Nway. ''It was totally dark but very noisy. We fell into the water several times. Water came into my mouth."
More than 100 villagers squeezed into the village head's house that night. They stood, tightly packed together, hoping and praying for the storm to end. Outside, the water rose to three metres. Shortly after midnight the wind stopped - but this time nobody dared leave. They waited for the dawn, injured and frightened.
When the sun came up, the house belonging to the head of the village was the only one still standing. The survivors searched but recovered only dead bodies from under the debris. More than a quarter of the village's population perished (120 out of 430), most of them women and children. Nway’s parents and her three siblings were among the dead.
The period following the storm was just as difficult. What little was left in the village soon disappeared. What the wind blew down, the tidal surge swept away: rice, household
utensils, clothes, farming tools - even cows and buffalos. Over the next few days, survivors ate and drank only coconuts.
When World Vision arrived at Nway’s devastated village, people were given much-needed rice and household items. As supplies began arriving in the village, former residents bravely returned. They came back, ready to begin rebuilding their lives.
To date, World Vision has provided essential relief supplies and support to over 347,000 people in Myanmar. Our response includes providing food, shelter, blankets, clothing, mosquito nets, cooking sets, water containers and hygiene and sanitation supplies to affected families. 94 Child Friendly Spaces are providing nearly 15,000 children with a safe and supervised place to play, learn, share their experiences and regain a sense of normality. World Vision staff, assisted by the people of Myanmar, have installed portable water treatment plants, cleaned out drinking water ponds, constructed latrines and distributed medicines.
There is much still to do.
*Names have been changed.