April 27, 2008 Cyclone Nargis heads north over the Bay of Bengal toward Myanmar, also known as Burma.
May 3 The cyclone strikes Yangon, the former capital city Rangoon.
May 4 Direct Relief contacts its partners and friends working in Myanmar and neighboring Thailand for information, updates, and to offer condolences and support.
May 9 Based on this trustworthy information, Direct Relief provides $125,000 to four organizations. Two organize and fund local Burmese relief workers to provide medical and humanitarian aid in the affected regions; the third expands its services to treat the huge numbers in need of medical care; and the fourth organizes emergency medical training for Burmese doctors.
May 10 Direct Relief’s Asia program officer flies to Bangkok, Thailand to obtain a visa to enter Myanmar, as well as to join the international community of humanitarian aid workers who have gathered at the United Nations’ regional office. At Thai/Burma border, he meets with established local organizations working with the Burmese population.
May 12 Direct Relief’s first air shipment of specifically requested medical material aid, valued at $200,000, leaves Direct Relief’s Santa Barbara warehouse for Yangon, where it is received by the Ministry of Health and sent directly to Laputta Township, one of the most affected areas of Myanmar’s southern delta.
May 17 The Myanmar embassy in Bangkok awards an entry visa to the Asia program officer for Direct Relief, which becomes one of the first foreign humanitarian aid organizations allowed into the highly isolated country after the cyclone.
May 22 Direct Relief’s program officer flies to Yangon for a week of meetings with a range of local humanitarian aid groups, including nongovernmental, community-based, medical, professional, religious, and semi-autonomous governmental organizations.
May 28 Direct Relief’s program officer joins the U.N. briefings in Bangkok to exchange information and conduct additional meetings.
May 31 Direct Relief’s program officer returns to our headquarters to begin providing the medical supplies and cash grants to the responsible, capable, and trustworthy organizations identified in Yangon and Bangkok.
June 2-13 Two air shipments valued at $1.6 million leave Direct Relief’s warehouse enroute to Yangon. One is received and distributed by a local NGO, the other by a local association of medical professionals.
June 16-July 3 Grants valued at $283,000 are provided to four local organizations in Yangon. Two use the funds to extend services at their clinics in the affected region, and two groups begin working with grassroots development and relief workers to provide aid, and begin rebuilding and redeveloping.
July 4-present Direct Relief has maintained contact with local, on-the-ground organizations providing aid and has sent additional support shipments to organizations so they can continue their efforts. Local organizations providing the best relief and development work will receive grants so they can operate at their fullest potential. They will be able to pay their medical staff; keep their clinics open; offer medical outreach; and provide transportation for patients, staff and supplies. Direct Relief’s goal is to help Myanmar recover from one of the worst natural disasters in its modern memory.