Local offers aid in Myanmar | SteamboatToday.com

Local offers aid in Myanmar

Fundraiser Tuesday at Ghost Ranch to help fund projects

Margaret Hair

Steamboat Springs High School graduate Michael Mangold will be going to Myanmar in February for three weeks to help build a school and fit people for prosthetic limbs.

— A Steamboat Springs man hopes to help build a school and fit people for prosthetic legs during a humanitarian trip to Myanmar in February.

Michael Mangold, 23, leaves for Myanmar on Feb. 11 and will be there for three weeks. He hopes to stay involved with humanitarian efforts after he returns and plans to show his video footage of conditions in the authoritarian country still recovering from a cyclone that struck in 2008.

"I'm hoping to go back. This is just the first of many trips, hopefully, to keep going back there and helping," Mangold said Saturday afternoon.

A fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Ghost Ranch Saloon will support Mangold's efforts. The event features a silent auction and live music by local musicians Jesse Christensen, Todd Musselman and the band Ragweed. Donations of any amount will be accepted at the door, said Leslie Christensen, Mangold's mother.

All proceeds will go toward funding humanitarian projects in Myanmar and will be administered through the Jared Prescott Trust. Mangold is paying his own way to Myanmar, he said.

Myanmar, formerly Burma, is a Southeast Asian country with a population of about 50 million. In its online description of nations, the U.S. State Department characterizes Myanmar's "authoritarian military government" as one that "suppresses all expression of opposition to its rule." The nation frequently is rocked by political unrest and was badly damaged by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

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Leslie Christensen and Mangold heard about the opportunity to help from Clarence and Jayne Jones, family friends from Utah. The couple had traveled to Myanmar on a church mission trip and began working to bring more help to the country. After the upcoming trip with Mangold, they hope to bring back video footage of the conditions in Myanmar to help educate more people about the country and its hardships.

Considering Myanmar's government, Leslie Christensen said she has worried about Mangold going there.

"I have my concerns, but I feel very good about it. I know it's the right thing," Leslie Christensen said. She also knows the experience and outreach effort will be a "life-changing" for her son, she said.

Mangold will work with the Jones to build a school, make fresh water readily available and fit victims of landmine explosions with prosthetic legs.

"I'm just excited to see a totally different country and people. … I'm excited to go over there and help," Mangold said.

Mangold also plans to take two suitcases full of toys appropriate for young children. He'll give those toys away to children there, Leslie Christensen said.

Leslie and Jesse Christensen and Mangold have lived in Steamboat for about seven years. Mangold graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2005. He's worked in landscaping since graduation and plans to attend Red Rocks Community College in the fall to study fire sciences and become a certified emergency medical technician.

If you go

What: The Burma Project fundraiser, benefiting humanitarian projects in Myanmar

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Ghost Ranch Saloon, 56 Seventh St.

Cost: Donations will be accepted at the door

Call: 879-9898