This autumn update on the Amity Living Water Campaign gives an account of the difficulties and obstacles in Myanmar and in times of Covid-19, but also about the commitment of people who strive passionately to improve their daily lives and that of their neighbors. The update has been written by Tong Su, the Project Coordinator of the Amity Foundation Hong Kong.
Weekend, end of September. “We can withdraw the money today”, a message popped up on the screen of my mobile phone. It was from Bishop of the Toungoo Diocese in Myanmar. “Great! The two-month waiting is not in vain after all. Now can we start buying materials and building the water systems?” I eagerly typed in my response. “Well, it is not safe to travel. Besides, COVID-19 is getting worse. In Nyaung Pin Taung, that water deprived village, everyone is sick now. The village church pastor who is responsible for our project is receiving treatment now.”
Nyaung Pin Taung and Pyaung Kaung Village are located on top of mountains. In close consultation with Toungoo Diocese, our local partner in Myanmar, Amity decided to use part of the donations collected in 2021 from supporters of the Amity Living Water Campaign to build much-needed water facilities in the two villages. The village, originally located near a river, was easily flooded each time when there is heavy rain. The villagers decided to move away from the riverside and live on top of the mountain after they suffered from very serious flooding again in August 2020.
As there is no water and electricity in the mountain, they have to spend a lot of time and energy every day going all the way down the mountain and fetching water from the river. But the river is an open water source for humans and animals, and not clean. People have to dig holes in the sand along the river so that mud and sand act as the filter when the river water slowly oozes into the holes. After filling the water in containers, there is a long way back up to the mountain top with the water on their back.
After the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, there are restrictions to communication, money transfer, purchases, and even transportation. While the Toungoo Diocese covers mainly rural and hilly areas in Southeast Myanmar, these limitations still affect the cooperation between Amity and Toungoo Diocese. Fortunately enough, we could manage to communicate with each other from time to time. And after months-long negotiation and waiting, the Living Water grant designated for the village water system is finally in the hands of those who are in need.
And then, there is the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 3rd wave of COVID-19 spreading started in Myanmar in July. The past months witness a quick surge of the virus into vast areas and over-stretched the country’s already lack-behind medical care infrastructure. Tens of thousands got affected and close to 18,000 lives were lost. Toungoo Diocese is no exception. Those villages without access to water and sanitation were the most fragile in fending the community members from the deadly virus. Amity Hong Kong sent almost HK$70,000 to Toungoo Diocese in May to help sustain its work under the threat of the closing-in pandemic.
“We appreciate very much what Amity does for the people here. We shall start to build the water facilities once the situation improves. It is really hard to carry on life as it is now.” Bishop wrote back. “Let’s watch our steps. Keep safe”. I sent out the words while thinking to myself: stay alive and there is always hope.
With generous donations from supporters of the Amity Living Water Campaign, we are still able to help many people in need of water and sanitation by building facilities in their communities, thanks to the great perseverance and hard work of men and women of our partner organizations. Sometimes, there was news that some leaders, staff or volunteers of these organizations were infected by the virus, treated and recovered.
This August, our hearts were saddened when we learned of the passing of our friend Mr Suren Goonesekara due to COVID-19. He was the Secretary of Board of Social Responsibility, Church of Ceylon and the “engine” behind all work related to Amity Living Water in Sri Lanka. His colleagues now pick up his torch and take the path he helped to open.
Needless to say, it is very important to help poor communities to have accessible and functioning water and sanitation facilities, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic is still rampant. Supporters of Amity Living Water Campaign has been helping in their own ways.
British supporters start personal quest to promote Amity Living Water Campaign – Challenging 100 kilometers Camino de Santiago in one week
When you encounter something right and worth doing, let’s act! Mr. Mark Powell from the UK is a supporter of the Living Water Campaign. He has worked and lived in Hong Kong for a period of time, and has participated in several voluntary work and visits in Myanmar. In July, he participated in the Amity Living Water Townhall, and had real-time online conversations regarding the theme of Water and Human Needs with Secondary 3 students from the NLSI Lui Kwok Pat Fong College. He was so moved by the encounter that he then decided to support the Campaign with actions.
From October 24th to 30th, he is starting his own personal quest to challenge the last 100 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and to promote the Amity Living Water Campaign calling for more people to join the action.
We are happy to announce that we’ve collected over HKD440,000 donations for the Amity Living Water Campaign so far in 2021. And construction plans are being implemented in slums, villages, and schools in Kenya, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cambodia. With assistance from our brave and perseverant partners, your donations will be turned into tangible community infrastructure to help keep more people stay safe from the pandemic and bring hope for better lives. Thank you and we are looking forward to your continued support.
We sincerely invite you to give your supports and make a difference to more people’s lives.