Bangladesh - Beyond the Relief
first published: Oct. 12, 2006 – Gospel for Asia
Every year between March and May in Bangladesh, cyclones sweep across the land and floodwaters fill the plains. And each year, millions of people die because there is no system in place to warn them before the storms strike.
But in the midst of this annual disaster, Gospel for Asia Compassion Services is helping bring relief to people who have lost everything in these tragic storms.
The cyclones destroy hundreds of villages at a time, killing thousands and sometimes millions. The strong winds lash the land, and the people have no way of escaping. Families are encouraged to dig holes in the floors of their homes where they can find protection from the high winds. But in the low plains of Bangladesh, the floodwaters begin to rise, compounding the problem.
The floods come in two related ways. The first is simply that the torrential rainfall soaks the flat land faster than it can run off. The other is that when water levels get too high behind the dams, they are opened to release the water. Both have devastating effects on the people.
That’s when GFA Compassion Services swings into action, bringing both physical relief to put their lives back together as well as the eternal hope found in Jesus.
Now the Gospel for Asia workers want to do more than react after the storms—they want to help create a warning system so people will have a chance to get out of the path of the storms.
Seventy percent of the population in Bangladesh is uneducated about how to prepare for a natural disaster. But it is not only important to teach them where to run to safety; it is also imperative to train people to do things as simple as listening to radio and TV weather reports.
While almost everyone in Bangladesh has access to a radio—and a significant percentage have access to television—many do not realize that listening to weather broadcasts can give them specific instructions and help them know sooner when to evacuate their villages and move to higher ground.
In hilly areas, GFA Compassion Services is also working to protect people from landslides. Part of the preventative training is to show the people places in which they can build their homes so that they are out of the path of potential landslides.
Finally, GFA Compassion Services is involved in educating the children who have become victims of natural disasters. In partnership with GFA’s Bridge of Hope program and local Believers churches, the children are give the opportunity to receive a primary education as well as be involved in the special Sunday school programs where they learn about Jesus.
For the workers and volunteers of GFA Compassion Services, serving those in dire physical, emotional and spiritual need goes far beyond “relief”; it means bringing a total new life to those who have lost all hope for the future.