Jim Rohrssen, of Lopez Island, returned from a trip to Asia this spring with a new found love of Myanmar (Burma.) The people have been living under the control of a military junta for nearly 20 years. “After the cyclone devastated much of the country on May 2-3, I felt compelled to do something,” said Rohrssen.
Rohrssen presented a slide show about his recent trip focusing on the social and political conditions in the country on May 25. On June 11, he will sponsor a dinner and benefit auction for the victims of the cyclone at the Galley Restaurant with seatings at 5:30 and 7 p.m. and on June 15 he will hold an afternoon potluck and band concert at the Lopez Center.
“The awareness of plight of the people of Burma has come to the attention of the world since the cyclone and it is even more acute since the storm,” said Rohrssen. The cyclone roared onto the low-lying Arrawaddy Peninsula with torrential rainfall and sustained winds of over 135 mph devastating much of the country. Over 78,000 people are confirmed dead and nearly 56,000 people missing. The UN estimates that over 1.5 million people were severely affected by the storm.
The political climate has prevented all but a trickle of immediate relief. “Due to the lack of food and fresh water required by hundreds of thousands, the death toll is now rising exponentially,” said Rohrssen. “Suffering of this magnitude demands a global humanitarian relief effort,” says Rohrssen.
Rohrssen’s aid will be delivered through four different agencies that are having some success in the country: Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children Foundation, Oxfam and the Nargis Action Group based in Burma. Rohrssen is in daily contact with the Nargis Group, a grass roots effort focused in the countryside.
The dinner and auction at the Galley Restaurant on June 11 to benefit the cyclone victims will include Burmese cuisine (a unique meal influenced by the flavors of China, India and Thailand) Burmese music and a silent auction of items from Burma and Thailand. Two seatings are available at 5:30 and 7 p.m. A minimum of a $25 donation is suggested and reservations are being accepted at 468-2713.