Helping the Burmese Delta
1332. Jonathan Wilkinson
1333. May Tha-Hla
Dr Jonathan Wilkinson and May Tha-Hla, from London, have supported over 68,000 people living in the remote Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar since the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008.
Over 140,000 people were killed in the Cyclone, which caused huge physical damage to villages and local infrastructure. May’s father had been born in the region but through the support of family and teachers progressed to become Rector of Yangon (Rangoon) University. Inspired by his experience, May and Jonathan wanted to create a charity that could look beyond providing emergency aid in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, but would continue to create opportunities for those living in the region to build their knowledge, skills and capabilities to progress towards a better quality of life, particularly through education and healthcare. Their charity ‘Helping the Burmese Delta’ has since overseen the building of 35 schools and training of over 150 health workers and birth attendants in the region to aid its recovery.
In a personal letter to Jonathan and May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how your charity ‘Helping the Burmese Delta’ has brought life-changing aid, new schools and healthcare to more than 60,000 people since the devastation of Cyclone Nargis.”
Jonathan and May said:
“We were delighted and honoured to receive this award. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to help the very poor people in Myanmar whom we serve. Their good humour, spirit and resilience are astonishing, and often put us to shame. We could have achieved nothing without our wonderful Myanmar team, who deliver projects for us in such remote and difficult areas, and our volunteers and donors here who have made it all possible.
“We hope also that this award will remind people that most parts of Myanmar are not the scene of strife, but rather of extreme poverty which deserves and needs our aid.”