Crisis map (Image courtesy Government of Bangladesh)
Bangladesh (MNN) ¯ Flash floods and mudslides triggered by Bangladesh's heaviest monsoon rains in a decade have killed at least 100 people and stranded 250,000 in the Chittagong Hills.
These are floods related to the same system that inundated Assam State in India, displacing over two million people. FARMS International executive director Joseph Richter confirms they have ten years' presence in the hills.
However, in speaking with their partner in Bangladesh, Richter says, "He reported that it's the worst flooding that he's seen in 15 years. He's still awaiting reports on damages. Most of these villages are very remote, and most of them are hike-in. So it will be some time to assess the damages up in those hills."
Authorities say hundreds of homes have been washed away. The displacement rates may have been complicated by the rat infestation in 2009, says Richter. That year, the bamboo was flowering, and the rats were coming in hordes to feed off of the flowers.
Not only did that result in immediate food shortages, but three years later, it resulted in a dearth of new bamboo, primarily a building material. Richter explains, "The young bamboo is coming back, but in the meantime, people said the price of bamboo has skyrocketed so they're beginning to build their homes out of reinforced sticks and adobe material. Those homes are built on the ground instead of elevated up on bamboo poles."
Although the waters are receding in most of the areas, the shelters built in the wake of the rat infestation "may be more affected by a flooding situation than the traditional home building techniques that they used in the past", says Richter.
The good news is they do have projects and church partners in the Chittagong hills. "Pray that these church leaders would take the initiative to help the people of the hills. They're one of the few structures up there for the community that can receive aid and distribute aid and supplies to the people as needed."
The church partners, in connection with the FARMS projects, are well connected, says Richter. "We met one man that I had met four or five years ago, with the Marma tribe--a Buddhist background tribe. He was one of the first evangelists for that group, and he shared with me on this recent visit that he had now planted 17 new churches."
FARMS projects in this region include pineapple farming, fruit and vegetable farming. Richter adds, "There are also projects in the small towns-- -clinics, pharmacies, and we also do some fish farming projects that have been very successful." He goes on to say, "Our program is designed, really, to help the family, but also to help the local church. Each project holder agrees to tithe out of the project profits back into the local church, enabling Gospel workers the freedom to do outreach evangelism in new villages and among new tribes.
As church partners filter their reports back to FARMS, the ministry will respond more accurately, since many of the rural areas where they're helping may fall through the cracks with federal help. Will you pray? There are many opportunities as yet unknown. Take a look at our Featured Links section to get a better picture of FARMS' work in Bangladesh.
Source: Mission Network News