Commitment for Life
Our chosen Partner is Bagladesh. we get a monthly news letter telling of the work beeng carried out in all four countries supporting Commitment for Life.
BANGLADESH - Children, women and elderly first.
The UK has had its fair share of flooding this year. Family homes and businesses have been ruined. There are health concerns and much of our coastline has changed forever. These are things that Pinaema Rani Mondal understands. Pinaema lives in Phol Tolais, a district in South West Bangladesh near the mangrove covered Sundarban area.
By day, she works for the Red Crescent giving first aid training, but in her spare time is part of a twenty two strong youth group supported by Christian Aid partner Shushilan. The group’s committee is democratically elected. Their numbers include students, agricultural workers, local business people, a homeopathic nurse and a vet. Activities are planned for a ten month period, instead of a year, as they know that there will be at least two months when there will be some form of disaster and they will not be able to maintain the programmes they have set.
When disaster hits, usually in the form of a cyclone, they swing into action. A megaphone announces the status of the cyclone and flood water levels. People respond positively to this pre warning because they trust the training the group have received from Shushilan.
Pinaema explained how a villager would not leave his home. “I will see what God will do” he said, but the group were able to persuade him to leave because of their training.
The young people help women, the elderly and children get to the cyclone shelter which also doubles as the local school. A Killa, a mound of earth, has been built for the domestic animals too as domestic animals are vital for a quick recovery. Once the danger has passed, the group get out into the affected areas repairing unsafe houses and clearing broken trees.
They also have been trained to set up temporary latrines and other sanitation devices. If the disaster is on a huge scale they will work with the police, army and medical teams. During Cyclone Aila and Sidra young people from this group went to offer help and advice in other parts of the country. As well as giving immediate assistance, the group are also training others in disaster preparedness. They know, by offering refreshments, villagers will come to listen to what they have to say. Now people realise they can help themselves if they know what to do.
When asked what would help their work, they immediately said they wanted more lifebuoys, a rescue trolley and a saw.
Looking to the future of their country, they explained,
“We want a peaceful life, knowing we can cope with the natural disasters. We need sweet water. We want to show, by example, how to work without corruption. Our dream is to make the earth united.”
With young people like Pinaema and the rest of the group prepared to work hard, the future looks hopeful for Bangladesh.
Image: pscott/Christian Aid.