On November 15, powerful winds swept in from the Bay of Bengal creating a surge of water that rolled up rivers and streams, deep into Bangladesh. Cyclone Sidr was the worst cyclone in more than a decade. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, left with nothing but what they could carry as they fled to the safety of shelters. Crops, schools, and roads were destroyed and livestock swept away. According the news reports, the cyclone claimed more than 3,400 lives. The United Nations estimates that more than 273,000 homes have been destroyed and 650,000 damaged in the country.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) workers Larry Fisher, formerly of Churchville, VA, and Mokhles Rahman, of Bangladesh, visited the southern Bangladeshi districts of Bagerhat and Pirojpur from Nov. 19 to 21 to survey the damage. Larry writes, “We came away with the feeling that the need is indeed very great and that we should respond in a significant way.”
In response to the need for housing and food MCC, along with partners, has promised a response valued at $500,000 that will: provide food immediately for 10,000 families for one month by making local purchases of rice, lentils, oil and salt ($38 provides these items for a family of 5 for one month); and reconstruct up to 1,500 homes ($200 provides material to rebuild one bamboo/slat home). More families are likely to receive food as MCC Bangladesh establishes additional distribution channels.
For information on MCC’s relief efforts on Bangladesh and how you can help please visit www.mcc.org.