A bridge-builder

Emil Helotie
Emil Helotie
Emil Helotie
Emil Helotie
Emil Helotie

Tun Tun Naign, 22, realised the significance of aid work in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar, in 2012, when he was sent there to support those living in a refugee camp.

The camp was established after the Buddhist majority clashed with the Muslim Rohingya minority. People fled and died during the conflicts. Some of the persecuted were forced to stay at the refugee camps where you can’t leave without permission. Not even to see a doctor. 

The volunteers of the Myanmar Red Cross Society started acting as bridge-builders in the camps and escorting people outside the camp, as necessary.

– “Together with another volunteer, we carried a pregnant woman near her time to see a doctor. On the way, we saw another woman who would give birth soon, and she needed help, too. We hurried back to the camp from the doctor’s and fetched the other woman. That’s when I realised we really do work that matters.” 

Shelter for the people who have lost their homes

During the severe flood in Myanmar in late summer, Tun Tun Naign’s house was filled with water and mud, but the house lasted through the flood. The young man, having worked seven years as a Red Cross volunteer, is a significant actor in the Kalay area Red Cross office, and he was quick to leave to aid others.

– “My wife cleans our house. And when my day job at the Red Cross is over, I hurry to help her,” Tun Tun Naign tells us about the distribution of work in his family.

After the floods, a team of Kalay Red Cross volunteers have tirelessly made rounds in the area and offered aid, such as distributing tents and tarpaulins to shelter those who have lost their homes, and tools to build new houses. In the Kalay area in North-West Myanmar, the floods damaged 6,000 houses badly. Approximately a thousand houses were washed away.

Tun Tun Naign is a carpenter, but at the moment he spends all his time doing volunteer work in the Red Cross.

– “I wish I was a rich man and I could help more. Fortunately, I can help others through my own actions.” 

Text: Johanna Lassy-Mäntyvaara, Myanmar