YANGON, Myanmar - From shopkeepers handing out free rice porridge to medical students caring for the sick, ordinary people in are stepping in to help cyclone victims as the military regime severely restricts international aid.
Taxi drivers, factory owners, college students, teachers and other Yangon residents — many of whom lost their own homes — are among those organizing grueling trips into the Irrawaddy delta, the hardest-hit region.
"They are true humanitarian heroes," said Bridget Gardner, International Red Cross representative in Myanmar, after touring an area where volunteers were giving first aid to the injured.
They are taking up collections at businesses and donating food, clothes and water. Some who are too poor to give money or supplies are offering their labor to help clear debris and rebuild villages leveled by the May 3 cyclone.