NLS grad distributing donations in Myanmar
At the same time as international cargo planes are being prevented from delivering supplies to Myanmar, a New London woman is hand-delivering bags of rice and bottles of water to people left destitute by the cyclone that hit the Southeast Asian c...
At the same time as international cargo planes are being prevented from delivering supplies to Myanmar, a New London woman is hand-delivering bags of rice and bottles of water to people left destitute by the cyclone that hit the Southeast Asian country a week ago.
Susan Semmler, a teacher at the International School of Yangon, Myanmar, is using her own savings and a good dollop of faith to buy staples in Myanmar. Traversing the storm-worn streets, she is giving supplies to people who were barely making a living before the cyclone hit.
The 1994 New London-Spicer graduate is also scrambling to secure money, building supplies and carpenters to rebuild more than 100 roofs on homes of people there.
And before she leaves the country at the end of the month, she will also establish a network of Burmese people to carry out repairs on a heavily damaged Baptist church that is a vital part of the small Christian community in Yangon.
Making the church whole will allow its members to continue their mission, including helping a nearby orphanage.
"She's a doer," said the Rev. Duane Semmler of his daughter, who is finishing her fourth and final year teaching in Myanmar.
While Susan Semmler is doing yeoman's work in Yangon -- a city of 6.5 million -- her father is organizing fundraising efforts here so that Susan can keep doing good things for others. He's already received generous individual donations from west central Minnesota and "from around the world."
The money is being deposited into an account that Susan Semmler can access through tele-banking.
Duane Semmler, who is pastor at Tripolis Lutheran Church and Ebenezer Lutheran Church of Kandiyohi, is also asking community churches to consider taking a special offering on Sunday so that his daughter can continue buying supplies and provide direct assistance to people in need.
"A lot of us feel bad and a lot of us want to help, and sometimes the best way is to take an offering, collect resources and start to do something," he said.
Small donations of $5 to $20 can "add up very quickly and we can make a significant impact within days and weeks," Semmler said. "People almost always come through."
Susan Semmler was scheduled to meet with members of her new network today in Yangon to update the priority list. She will also be able to tell them that there is another $5,000 available because of recent donations.
By using her own money and paychecks offered by other international teachers, Semmler has overseen roof repairs on the home of Zun MiMi Shwe, a Ridgewater College student who's staying with Duane and Mary Semmler at their Lake Andrew home in northern Kandiyohi County. Shwe was a former student of Susan Semmler's.
"Each time a roof goes up, it gives them hope," said the Rev. Semmler.
"I feel truly blessed to have the resources to give to such beautiful people like these folks," wrote Susan Semmler in a journal entry she sent to her parents.
Donations for the Myanmar relief effort can be sent to the Tripolis Lutheran Church Mission Fund, Box 356, Kandiyohi, MN 56251. For additional information, contact the Rev. Semmler at 320-354-4949 or e-mail at email@example.com .