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July 12th, 2011
Eyes of the Storm
Introduction

“Tragic and powerful”
–Burma Digest

On May 2, 2008, a Category 4 cyclone made landfall on Burma’s southern coast. Winds of 130 miles per hour raged all night, and storm surge drowned much of the Irrawaddy Delta in over 12 feet of water. Whole villages vanished, at least 130,000 people died, and two million were left homeless, making Cyclone Nargis the worst natural disaster in Burma’s history. Among the survivors were thousands of children orphaned or separated from their parents.

Eyes of the Storm tells the struggles of several orphaned children left to fend for themselves and rebuild their shattered lives in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.  Among others we meet 10-year-old Ye Pyint who is now surrogate father to his younger brother and sister; they live in a makeshift hut in what remains of their village. We follow Min, the 16-year-old who is the sole survivor from his family and is now trying to live as a monk in a Buddhist monastery miles away from his devastated home.

Through the eyes of the Burmese filmmaking team who shot undercover for over 10 months in defiance of the ruling junta’s media blackout, WIDE ANGLE provides a rare window into one of the world’s most secretive countries. The hour-long documentary also features American and British journalists who have reported from Burma and speak of its history and the hopes and fears for its future.

  • Steve Weiss

    Just getting to an orphanage is sometimes an issue as there’s another little known problem of the government coming in and nabbing the parent-less. As a ward of the state, these victims of circumstance make the perfect mold for a state that needs recruits towards and indoctrinated separation between the classes – those that will treat their fellow countrymen like the enemy, versus those that hope for democracy, and to survive.

  • Lai Lee

    Are you guys sure that this is not a conspiracy of the government trying to control population, therefore, pull themselves out of the “third world country” status?

  • Casey Shaffer

    I was dumbfounded at watching the Auscwitz of the Ayeyarwady Delta. The reporting on the trafficking of children for sex and their body parts is profoundly evil. This should be addressed by the UN with a coalition of Governments. Efforts should be aimed at entering the country, trying the responsible leaders at the Hague, establish humanitarian aid, and sheppard governmental reform or establish a new government (with the consent and involvement of the Burmese people). I especially would like the United States and China to work together to address this atrocity!

  • A Freedman

    It’s hell on Earth for those people! This documentary is truly an eye opener. Five stars.

  • Emily

    This documentary moved me to tears. I cannot believe the kind of suffering that these people have to endure! What can we do to help them?

  • Nancy Marin

    How can I support the Burmese? After seeing this PBS program on Wednesday evening I found myself wanting to know this answer. I recently found out a friend is supporting Burmese refugee families that have arrived in San Antonio. Catholic Charities is working with them. Supporting these families will be a beginning. I’ll start with them!

  • AK

    Yes it is, truly is, hell on earth for the Burmese survivors of the cyclone of 2008. It is my sincere, hope and prayer that the many people who saw this show would take action by clicking on the “How You Can Help” button and donate as little as $3, $5 or $10. Because while I can deeply and wholeheartedly relate to your reactions, because I am angry and saddened too, my gut tells me that the political climate will not change anytime soon in the immediate future. And in the mean time, children continue to starve. I’ve been here nearly 30 yrs, have gone back several times, but things have gotten worse, not better, for the people of Burma. PLEASE I beg each of you to do what you can as a Global Citizen, not just as an American Citizen. And I’m not ashamed to beg time and time again for this particular cause. Although the Burmese people may never be able to thank each of you personally, I know in my Burmese-American heart, the $3 we spend on a latte can bring breakfast, lunch and dinner for a few days. So on their behalf, I thank each of you in advance for watching it, spreading the word about it, sending them well wishes and if at all possible, I hope you will click on the “How you can help” button!

    With Myetta (Loving kindness),
    AK

  • AK

    There is a local agency, Burmese American Association of Texas http://baatx.org/no-donations.php if you wish to work with a local organization that works directly with Buddhist monks inside the country.

    There are also several agencies in Houston working with Burmese Refugees. There are many ways to help locally and abroad.

  • Beth Bogie

    I have been involved with Burma for the past 15 years or more. As far as I know, this is the first full hour ever give to Burma on U.S. television, and I follow the subject closely. There are few even mentions of Burma by our press, and those are usually associated with Aung San Suu Kyi. I thought the piece was very good, but there was a very cynical remark by Aaron Brown, “Americans don’t care.” The real problem is Americans don’t know. And they don’t know because the press doesn’t care and is ignorant and has no curiosity. I am a journalist and I’m greatly angered about the lazy journalism Americans have to accept, especially when it comes to international news. The press views Burma as non-strategic and ho-hum, because it’s not sexy and the U.S. government hasn’t considered Burma strategic. The press should be showing the U.S. government that Burma is strategic. If there is anything Americans should have learned from 9/11 is that every country is strategic. And we who have everything, if only from a moral perspective, ought to care about every country. There is much to be learned from the gracious and long-suffering people of Myanmar.

  • Taelsir T.Kafai

    I need to hellp the three orfans how can i get there address?

  • Taelsir T.Kafai

    I need to hellp the three orfans how can i get to them?

  • Pete Stamas

    Wow. This was truly amazing. I will never look at the world the same.

    It is so hard to find television shows such as this which contain real world news. Only recently – during an episode of The Philanthropist – was I exposed to the situation of Burma.

    I cannot express my heartfelt thanks for the documentary presented this evening.

  • Edith Mirante

    The unmentioned creature in the room was Chevron — that generous sponsor of PBS, which remains in a direct joint-venture with Burma’s regime. The generals destroying Burma are not “isolated,” they are major players in the international petroleum trade. The US and European sanctions do not apply to Chevron and Total, which through their pipelines of hard currency bankroll not only the junta’s royal capital and lavish dinners, but the cruel military offensives against young Silver Moo’s Karen people and the weapons turned against monks like Min. It is not only China which is guilty of waltzing with Burma’s dictators for resource extraction, the largest US petroleum corporation enables them too.
    E. Mirante, Project Maje

  • Nicole Semenchuk

    I care so much about Burma and this program was amazing in the access it provided to a country and people so rarely revealed to outsiders. The people are so strong and resilient in the face of such poverty and oppression. I pray for their futures and encourage all Americans to become more aware of the horrible situation there.

    I can’t get the image out of my head of one of the young girls who took the three orphans in her care. She was smiling and her eyes gleaming as she talked about not having much rice left and maybe starving.

    This is such an important documentary–Please watch it!

  • ye lin

    Thank you so much for this documentary, PBS. I have seen there, been there, but not a lot of people from outside Burma seen these horrific situation. You present it so good; we can’t thank you enough for this behalf of all Burmese people. I’m so ashamed of our government. I feel so bad and hopeless for our people down there. U.S. French, U.K, CHINA and RUSSIA should do something about it. Even CHINA took helps from Taiwan when there was catastrophe in their country. How can the whole world watch Burmese government refusing helps from internationals and watch their own people die or suffer from it? Unbelievable!!!

  • Michele

    This documentary had me in tears. I cannot believe what I saw. Thank you to those here that gave a link to a US charity so I can at least feel like I’m doing something!!! So very sad to think that a 10 yr old is taking care of his 6 and 2 yr old siblings. My children are so lucky – just broke my heart. Had to share this w/ like minded people.

  • Khoa Doan

    I cried when watching that program last night. I really want to help these people as much as I possibly can, and urge others to do the same. It’s truly our moral responsibility as a human being.

  • mkm

    I am one of the very, very few lucky enough to have escaped that unspeakable government with my entire family mostly intact in the early seventies. We’re still in self exile but now I’m more than ever determined to do something about the situation in any way. I know there are organizations locally and internationally active to help my countrymen, especially those who are in abject misery, slowly languishing away on the Thai border. They especially are not only helpless and vulnerable refugees, but are unwanted by the Thai government which consider them as an illegal and unseemly burden, and have been known to “re-patriate” them back into Burma where the refugees face certain persecution if not jail or torture or death. In the camps, the refugee population continue to be exploited as hard laborers or worse by the locals, and restricted in countless ways to live any semblance of decent human lives in these camps. This is information I receive from Burmese that came into the U.S. and I would like to see PBS do a special report on the refugees on the Burma-Thai border, it is no less dire.

  • MEESHALEE

    I too, was in tears!! This is a documentary for ALL young American children to see just how spoiled (blessed) we really are!! Everyone, please pass the link to the site around and do as you see fit to help out. No CHILD should have to live as the burmese do. My heart and prayers go out!!

  • roibeard o hairt

    Hello!!! Please bear with me and have a little patience ?? This is re:Eyes of the Storm and politics in Burma, etc. Well it started off with Aaron Brown ranting and almost tearful in his descriptions of the Gov’t of Myanmar and their relationship with Ms. Aung and her being put under house arrest for her politics against thethis Government!! I could not get past this attitude to even look at the program!!! and here is why: As far as being hypocrites we, the U.S. is the worst!! Yes, house -arrest is bad, but let’s consider Our history!!We, the People, enslaved millions after kidnapping them, murdered countless others after the forced removal from their Homelands and then starved the remainder, we knowingly refused to help the fleeing and imprisoned Jews in Europe during and after WW2, we imprisoned hundreds of thousands during the war because of their race, over 3 millions were murdered in SouthEast Asia during the 60’s and 70’s, millions were allowed to sicken and die from AIDS in the 3rd World because they were poor, and even now we have hundreds of prisoners who have been “capured” (kidnapped) from other countries, tortured and sometimes murdered all with even being charged with a crime!!!!! And these are only the well known incidents which have occured with the help and knowledge of our elected officials at all levels of government !!!! And you wonder why a little statement on a TV program makes me soooo angry!!!??Well, it’s basically because i will never forget those who suffered and died for THEIR beliefs. I feel that others have ideals and dreams and lives, too !!! Not just those of us born in the United States. !Yes, it is sad that children are always caught in the middle….it happens here, too! In fact, just look at how our children were treated, along with their relatives, in NewOrleans after H.Katrina !!I would love to see the documentaries done in other countries about the History of the UnitedStates and any of the episodes that i touched upon!
    thanks for reading/printing this!
    -rob-

  • Sheryl Phillips

    Please tell me who I can contact in order to adopt these three beautiful children.

  • Nicole Cranford

    I cannot even imagine a life like this. I was in tears over these children, amd am sure there are more like them. Sherly, I was thinking the same thing…how can I adopt them?????? How about, how can I ensure that if I send money that it would get to them? I want to help! Tell me how??

  • DarDarNaing

    Thank you so much for this documentary .I know , my thank you is not even enough for you PBS. I was thinking the same thing like Tealsir.T. Kafai, Sherly and Nicole . How can I get the 3 kids address and Howcan I help them . I cried and cried last night. I was thinking a bout those 3 kids all day today. When I see your comment my tears came out again. I am so glad you think the same thing. I hope we can find how to help them very soon. If you know some thing that I can help , Please let me know too.
    Thank you

  • Ratha

    I agree with Beth Bogie. I’m an American and I DO CARE! I had no idea about the suffering of the Burmese people until this year when my Burmese professor who fought against the regime gave us a glimpse in to his life when he lived there. Mr. Brown’s interview with Maureen Aung-Thwin reinforced the need of change from within. She sparked an interesting concept of potential change involving the military. If the people can turn the military against those few irrational leaders, perhaps then they can gain enough power to take back their lives. Also ASEAN needs to step up more but this is not a regional problem. When people’s basic human rights are abused and their basic human needs are ignored, we all as human beings should be concerned because social problems have no borders.

  • Michael

    If anyone figured out how to contact the 3 orphans and the updates on them.Or can reach the Zorro journalist tplso find out how the 3 children are doing and how to donate directly to them. email me on mapesomichael@hotmail.com My girlfriend and I were crying reading the comments here.We were so moved by the children in this documentary we couldnt sleep till we donated to the orphans on How you can help..Pls. If you could spare a couple of dollers it would be money well spent on a hungry child. No one should suffer especially an innocent helpless child.
    Thank You

  • Mari

    We appreciate the list of organizations helping with all the victims in Burma, but I am curious to find out if there is an organization that would be able to assist in adopting any of the children in the orphanage. I give so much credit to the gentleman that is trying to run the orphanage and keep these children safe. Most of us would love to take a child (or children) in and give them love, an education,and a home.

  • Michael Riley

    even juntas are impermanent

  • ROBERT CARTER

    any one who wants to see the real horrors of BURMA …check out RAMBO 4 .
    much of the story is based on the info from the BURMAESE Rangers .
    WARNING IT IS A DOUBLE R …graphic like ‘Saving Private Ryan ‘ .
    EVIL WINS , WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING .
    EXCELLANT PROGRAM . WHEN DO THE REST OF THE WORLD FIND OUT ABOUT IT ?

  • Misty Dove

    My prayers have been lifted for the three children. If there was a way for me to help their little lives, I would be more than willing to let them into my life.

  • Zorro

    Thank you , PBS, that’s Zorro, journalist and filmmaker for the documentary “Eyes of The Storm”. While seeing the film , I don’t know how many times I watched it, I miss the children and cann’t imagine how hard they’re struggling this time. As a filmmaker who has been the villages many times, I intentionally filmed the situation and reality to tell the world that’s happening in Burma, isolated country run by military regime. while being in front of screen, their smile, tear, innocent face and amazing survive, affected my heart. If I say something, would you think that’s extreme? anymore, They are hopeless to set up the expectation from someone or something because of fears.
    Thank you all for the comments

  • Move on

    PBS should indicate that DVB a rabidly anti SPDC organization is a co producer. Vilifying SPDC aside does this help anyone here to volunteer or donate to these victims’ benefit.
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6479/is_3_30/ai_n31178685/
    Let us not forget the detail that ensue following a hard to predict path of this storm.
    Even harder for a de facto paranoid government who has been sanctioned to the hilt, conveniently overlook by all, for at least 20 years , as well as deprived of legitimate aids by the same advocates that now blame the government failure

  • move on

    Zorro should this time officially return and document the progress. Knowing he is actually part of the problem not the solutions to the plight of the sufferings orphans. Most of the help of these vulnerable ones from within the country. As for the without: Japan, Korea and SIngapore has done more without any accolades that Zorro #29 post suggest that isthe mean to an end for him. “FAME”.

  • move on

    Mari
    Visit Myanmar and ask your guide. If you are truly serious: Seek and ye shall find.

  • May Tha-Hla

    I have set up a charity registered in the UK but collecting money from anywhere in the world. It is called Helping The Burmese Delta (see website http://www.HelpingTheBurmeseDelta.org for what we have been doing). I collected many thousands of pounds from friends during May 2008, 9 days after Nargis, and set off for the delta in person to deliver the aid that none of the big agencies/NGOs seemed t be able to get into the delta. I have been back to the rural delta five separate times, and organized a 6th trip with carpenters and workmen to Haingyi which helpers in Burma carried out while I was in UK. We built new homes and renovated others for 3000 people in Haingyi, built a reinforced concrete village school in the Bogalay rural area, helped farmers seed and fertilize 60 acres of rice in Pyapon district, support a nun’s orphanage which looks after children sent down by rural delta monks to keep them safe from the human traffickers, have provided cooking utensils and fed literally thousands of people on many runs into remote zones, and now we are gathering a list of very bright orphans to find some support for them to finish High School – this has to be done by boarding and costs about $1500 per year per child for all their living and tuition expenses. I beg you to look at our website and press the donation button because these poor, poor people have no-one else to help them, in reality. The delta will not recover for at least 5 years, there is still salt in the soil preventing agricultural success, only 20 out of 350+ rural schools in the Bogalay district have ever been rebuilt, of which only 4 were in brick, of which only one (ours) is reinforced against storms. There is a lost generation – many poor/elderly grandparents unable to care fully and educate their grandchildren whose parents were wiped out by Nargis because they were working on the harvest out in fields at the time of the storm. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE WORK FOR US TO DO. Please have a look at the website where we have placed our latest newsletter – then you will know how you can help. We have opened a CAF Bank charity account in the US so american donors can claim gift aid. Finally, to reassure you, I always go in person to deliver the aid and not one penny of donations is spent on running the charity.

  • mari anthony

    Thank you, Move On. I would love to visit and see what myself and my husband could do to help, but my concern is safety. Is it safe? We have three beautiful children; we would love to expand our family by adopting a child or siblling pair, but we have to consider the safety factor. Is there a way to be in contact with one of the orphanages to see what we can do to help from here and then plan a trip to adopt and bring them back here to the States?

  • Diana Sowards

    Friends of Burma,Inc is a 501(c)3 charity which has been helping the people of Burma since 1985. We know the situation and have many projects. Right now, helping the microcredit groups is very helpful in therapy for them to work out their grief and trauma–having something to do to make a living gives them a reason to live. You can help do that. To start a group costs $300 and many poor women will be helped to learn a trade and support each other. To my knowledge, adoption out of the country is not allowed. There are many orphans, but I do not believe anyone can adopt them. More to the point is to help the remaining families and childcare facilities (Burma doesnt like the word “orphan”) to support the children they have taken in. Many people have taken in these children. Just to let you know, we have been there many times, the last time was in July. The needs are many and there are many organizations helping besides us. Diana

  • Mari Anthony

    Diana,
    I am both sad and relieved to read your comment. I am relieved to find out about a charity like Friends of Burma. That sounds like a great “Let’s do something, not just talk about it.” organization. I am interested in looking further into that. What is upsetting to me is that out of the country adoption sounds out of the question. It seems ridiculous to me that a country that has so many children growing up parentless would rather them stay in the country than be placed in a family. How wonderful it is that there are families there trying to take in these unfortunate children and raise them with their own families! Like I commented before, the people trying to head-up the “childcare facilities” certainly need to be congratulated on doing what they can. Still, is is sad to me that we (and many others, I am sure.) would love to welcome a child or sibling pair into our family with open arms and aren’t even given the chance to try even when it would be such a blessing to our family as well as lighten the load on one of the orphanages at the same time. How can something that seems to be a positive for all parties not be allowed?

  • move on

    Mari Anthony
    Please do visit the land. Talk to people you met openly. Things are not as straight forward as Aaron might like to suggest. Typical US view of an Asian country, using Sanction admitted here to have hurt the people more but still not relenting.
    YES IT IS ABSOLUTELY SAFE to visit the country. Friends of Burma is but one of the quiet organization helping the most vulnerable. There are many other organization inside Burma that do the same very effectively.
    Burma situation has become to day is truly the tragic result of the government as well as the 20+ years of sanctions imposed by the west. The degree of which need to be debated here if frontline is truly concern about these most vulnerable ones.
    Otherwise this is merely a lip service to so called express ” concern” but not really going back to the raison d’étre.
    Pleas visit the country and form your opinion.

  • B.Walker

    We lived in Yangon for 6 mos. The govt. does NOT allow adoption at all, unless you are a Buddhist, and even then I think it would be nearly impossible.
    Sadly, only the ones who can snatch the kids for bad reasons seem to get them out of the country. PRAY that people will care enough to do something. But if the whole world watched during the Tsunami and still did nothing…I don’t know what would cause them to act now.

  • Lorena Pasillas

    I need to help these poor children…I’m still in tears with sadness and anger that a baby has to become the parent for his siblings. Please let me know how I can help!

  • Phuu Phuu

    Thank u so much to all the journalists and PBS for showcasing the plight of the innocent Burmese people under the harsh and brutal military rule.

  • ClareT

    Zorro, thank you for the risks you took in filming this documentary. Anyone who has seen it can not help but be moved by the children’s stories and as you can see from the comments, many of us want to help the children featured in this film. As you know the whereabouts of the children, would it possible for people to donate money via the DVB website so that the funds could go directly to the children in the film? I have already donated money to a charity that work in Burma, but would like to donate more and to know that it is going to go directly to the children featured in your film.

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