Two Months After the Fire – New Houses are Complete
All Moken have moved from their temporary shelters into new homes. In total there are 61 new identical houses, built of wooden beams and thatch walls. In addition to housing, the government has also provided bedding and basic kitchen items. As the hard-working soldiers have moved on, the villagers are finishing the last construction details by themselves such as the fence around the front porch and added a bamboo frame to stabilize the palm-leaf roofs. For the interior, Moken men are busy building racks and shelves. With these additions, the houses are starting to have an personal feeling, reflecting their occupants unique tastes and preferences.
The National Park has re-opened the bay to tourism, and the Moken started to sell handicrafts in front of their houses again, providing much needed income to some families. Many families, however, still lack the equipment necessary to resume their livelihood. Tools for making handicrafts, such as chisels and knives, need to be replaced. Much of the fishing equipment was lost in the fire, along with the small fishing boats needed for harvesting the sea in the monsoon. Equally important was the cash savings that the Moken kept in their homes. They have no citizenship, and therefore no access to a bank account. This money was used for health emergencies and monsoon supplies (when no income is available).
Within the next week, the chief of the village will be preparing a full list of what is still needed to comfortably survive the monsoon. Working with the North Andaman Network Foundation, we have already purchased solar lighting units for each household in the village. Regular access to the islands ends in mid-May. After that the national park closes and the monsoon rains begin. We are therefore hurrying to procure the basic necessities for six months of monsoon weather.
Many thanks for all of your support and solidarity in the past weeks, and we will send another update soon.
For a recent village update please see https://www.andamannetwork.org/2019/04/22/moken-village-update/