Every home along the main street of Myanmar‘s Aima fishing village has something in common.
It goes beyond the woven bamboo walls, metal roofs and identical 270 square foot floor plans.
You might see it in the eyes of a Burmese boy who is barely tall enough to peer out of his front window.
Or maybe you can sense it from the young mother crouched in her doorframe, hands on chin, looking out.
One year ago, 119 of the 940 people who lived in Aima lost their lives in Cyclone Nargis, often the husbands and fathers who were out for the day catching crabs or fishing.
The deaths here are a small part of the 140,000+ killed when Nargis ripped across the Ayeyarwady delta on May 2, 2008, an unforgiving wall of wind and water that leveled every structure that wasn’t steel reinforced concrete.
Among those who lost loved ones is A Nu Mya, a 30-year-old woman with four children.
Her husband was out catching crabs to sell in the marketplace when the storm hit.
He never came home.
A Nu Mya has known her husband since she was 15 years old.
The soft-spoken woman has a strong faith, though, and believes that it was simply an act of nature.
A Nu Mya told me, “God will help me rebuild my life.”
When World Concern began its humanitarian recovery work in Ai-ma and in other villages across the low, muddy plains of the delta, our work included distributing emergency supplies of food and water – as well as the formidable and grim task of finding and burying victims.
So many died, though, it’s still not unusual to discover human bones on the shoreline.
Many thousands of people will never be found.
Now in the next phase of humanitarian disaster response, World Concern has done amazing work, from building homes, water and sanitation systems, to distributing kitchen and bedding supplies.
World Concern is working with Habitat for Humanity to build the innovative homes, which use coconut wood frames and woven bamboo floors.
We’ve even replaced fishing boats and worked on schools.
Our aid has reached far into the community.
Much of it is to promote sustainable livelihoods, so that people there will be able to support themselves once we leave.
In many villages we’ve even worked with locals to built tall mounds of raised Earth, a place to go to escape rising flood waters of the next cyclone.
Walking the streets of the village, pain remains fresh.
I spoke with two fishermen and a woman. Interviewed separately, all told me that it seems like the storm just happened. It is often the first thought they have every morning.
I am proud of the way World Concern has helped thousands of people here rebuild their lives.
We’ve listened to their stories and are helping them create better lives.
But the hearts of these villagers remain fragile.
Say a prayer for the delta. It’s been a year, and people are still reeling.