Saturday, May 17, 2008

Update From Thailand

Sawadee, everyone. I was sent to Thailand on May 3 to participate in a regularly scheduled annual military exercise. As I flew in, I didn't realize that 30,000 feet below, tens of thousands of people in Burma were perishing in a cyclone. As soon as I arrived at headquarters, I was assigned to the Burma relief mission.

Burma is a very closed country and mistrustful of others. For days they refused all offers of aid and would not allow aid workers into the country. Eventualy, they began to allow a small amount of relief supplies into the country, but only as far as Rangoon airport. Foreign planes are required to unload their cargo and leave immediately. Internal distribution is done only by the Burmese government. There are reports that labels are changed on the supplies so people will think they were supplied by the Burmese government. Reports of donated goods being sold or sent to army warehouses. The worst reports say that aid is only going to communities that the government deems loyal.

Because of the exercise, there is a Navy task force carrying Marines in the vicinity. A task force like this was used to help after the tsunami a few years ago and last November after a cyclone hit Bangladesh. They were moved around the Malaysian peninsula and are ready to ferry supplies quickly to the most devastated areas, but we won't do it until we have permission from the Burmese government. Right now a French cargo ship loaded with supplies has been denied permission to dock.

I wish the "Code Pink" ladies who are protesting the Marines up in Berkley, California could see how many volunteered to go into an unfriendly country where death and disease are all around, just to deliver relief supplies to those in need. Unfortunately, none have been permitted to go. Why are we working so hard to give relief supplies to such an unwilling recipient? 1. The people really need it. 2. Much of the world thinks the US is the cause of most of what's wrong with the world and we want to change that perception. 3. Burma has been shut off from us for two generations and this may be an opportunity to open a dialog (even though we disapprove of their government).

There's a lot more, but I wanted to keep this short. I'd give you some impressions of Thailand, but I haven't seen any of it. All I've done is work and sleep. It feels like Florida in the summer. Heat, humidity, and spectacular thunder storms that mess with your satellite communications.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kevin,

How frustrating! Stay safe.


Anonymous said...

Wow, sounds like such heartbreak, poverty, and nonsense. I just don't understand why people cannot accept the help graciously.

Keep up the good work Kevin. We need more like you!


Anonymous said...

Hello their Kelly's Dad,
I have often wondered why we continue to offer aid to countries that think we suck. I understand the point of view, but what a setback!
I applaud your efforts though. I for one don't like the thought of leaving the states for foreign soil. Not a big traveler. However.. those thunderstorms I would find pretty cool!
Be Safe... and Good luck with you mission.
Amy... Kasey's mom

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

That's too bad about what's going on. It seems so obvious to let those that want to help, and can, to do so. Thanks for trying to help all those people and hopefully you will get to. What a disaster. Stay safe....God speed...Semper Fi!

The Diemer's
MCB Camp Pendleton


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update! I hope you can begin helping the Burmese people soon! Thanks for all you and your buddies are doing to help them out (even if it is turned away at this point)
Be safe and healthy! Hope you can come home soon!
Darla and Family

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
Thanks for the update! Wow! We hear about all of this stuff happening around the world in the news, but we get so busy with our own lives we only give it a small prayer, or thought, and then go on with our day. You are actually there living it, and trying to do something about it! Yes, it is horrible the way the government is responding, but the citizins should not have to pay the price. It is still our fellow man that is suffering. They are blessed to have you all there trying to help, at least. Hopefully you will be able to make a difference in some of the victims lives anyway. Good luck, and our prayers are with you and your team. (regiment?) Love Debbie Meyering

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelly,

Good thoughts go out to you this Tuesday. I hope you've got your seeds and it all goes smoothly.

Our spring has been chilly and wet but the azaleas and dogwoods have been lovely.

I hope you have a good day today and a better day tomorrow.

Take care.


Aunt Tracy said...

Hi all you Laudes!
I know stories are Henry's domain :) but I thought I'd share this one! This story is one of those forwarded emails. I usually just delete them. This one is very sweet and to the point! With Kevin helping in Myanmar I can't help thinking it should be a map of the world!


A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little
girl, Shelby. She wanted to know what the United States looked like.

Finally, he tore a sheet out of his new magazine on which was printed
the map of the country. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to
Shelby and said, 'Go into the other room and see if you can put this
together. This will show you our whole country today.'

After a few minutes,
Shelby returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped
together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so
quickly. 'Oh,' she said, 'on the other side of the paper is a picture of
Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country
just came together.'

Hope you all have a good day!
Aunt Tracy

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelly,

You might want to consider sending an inspirational note to Senator Kennedy. The senator has just been diagnosed with a glioma of the parietal lobe of the brain. The immediate treatment plans call for radiation and chemo. You might want to tell him about those seeds of yours.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

To Kelly's Aunt Tracy,

I love your story.


Aunt Jenny & Uncle Bob, Kylie & Ryan said...

Ditto on Aunt Tracy's story--we love it!! Thanks for sharing! That one is a keeper and worthy of forwarding on!

Kevin, all of us here at home appreciate what all of you are trying to do! Have a safe trip back next week! I know 4 girls who will be so happy to see you home!

Thinking of all of you,
Aunt Jenny, Uncle Bob, Kylie and Ryan

Chris & Wendy said...

Hey Kevin ~ keep up the good work and stay safe, happy to hear you are doing good. It is awesome seeing how good Kelly is doing, Wendy and I are proud of her and all her travels.

Thanks for the update!

Chris and Wendy

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
Thank you for your update. It was heartbreaking to read how all of you are tryng to help, but are being blocked from doing so. Please know you are all in my prayers. May God continue to watch over you, as He watches over your family. Safe trip home...
Your neighbor around the corner,
Patty J.