Christian aid team brings relief to cyclone survivors in Bangladesh

By November 21, 2007

Bangladesh (MNN) — The real picture of Bangladesh's cyclone disaster is emerging, and relief workers are intensifying their efforts to reach millions of survivors.

Authorities are still trying to reach 30 percent of areas hit by the storm. There are now fears that a lack of food, drinking water and medicine could lead to disease.

Food for the Hungry's Matt Panos says one million families have been left homeless, and they've launched an aid response to take care of the day-to-day survival. "Our focus is on immediate food and blanket distribution," says John Marsden, Food for the Hungry country director in Bangladesh.

However, the sheer numbers of survivors require a cooperative approach. Panos says it is impossible for one agency to meet the needs of a million families. "In partnering with agencies, we'll take portions of the areas that are affected, and we'll try to serve those in the area. So, if the needs are bringing water, that's what we'll do. If the needs are to bring in more food, that's what we'll do. If the need is to work with temporary housing, then that's what we'll do."

With initial contributions from the rapid relief fund and pledges from partner organizations, Food for the Hungry will distribute one-week food packs and warm blankets to about 4,000 families. A proposal for $100,000 is in the works to provide help to more than 8,000 families.

Food for the Hungry Bangladesh is also coordinating with FH Relief Unit about proposing to OFDA (Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance) for shelter and rehabilitation interventions.

With so much devastation at hand, do the teams think about sharing the hope of Christ?  Always, says Panos. "The first thing you do is to help people who are in need. That's the service of Christ here. They're looking to us to help alleviate a dire situation where starvation, water-borne disease, and potentially death is imminent. So our best response, as soldiers of Christ, is to be there with that cold cup of water." Click here if you can help meet some of the physical needs.

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