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Heartbreak in Bangladesh: Cyclone Aila

Cyclone Aila in Bangladesh They are the most heartbreaking reports I’ve seen during my 12 months in this job. (Not that you can really quantify or categorize something like this, but last week was the first time I cried reading a crisis report.)

Cyclone Aila. If you haven’t heard about it, don’t feel bad. It really hasn’t been in the news much at all.

None of the major world news sites say anything about it. When I checked yesterday, they all had headlines about singing sensation Susan Boyle, but nothing about Cyclone Aila. However, just because there are no headlines doesn’t mean there is no news.

Over the past week, David Adhikary, our communications specialist in Bangladesh, has been sending photos and reports from the midst of the cyclone’s aftermath. They are devastating. Here are a few excerpts from his reports …

“During the disaster night, the children and their families suffered a lot. The cyclone took down their houses, and after that the dams were destroyed. Some of children had to stand in water for the whole night. The center staff found many of the children in a wet condition.”

“The Compassion center staff and the parents of the children are very anxious about the aftereffects of the flood. The dead animals could cause dangerous diseases, and the probability of malaria is very high.”

“There is not a single house in the village that hasn’t been affected by floodwater. The village is near the sea and the river water is very salty. The floodwater mixed with their water sources and made it impossible to drink.

“The water crisis is the major problem for the people. People were seen drinking the polluted floodwater to put off their thirst. The floodwater is very dirty and stinky. The dead animals and fish are floating all over the water. Children of that area are also drinking the same water.”

Worse …

“The affected families have taken shelter at the nearest market. The families are staying with the animals in the market. The marketplace is badly polluted as the people are using the place for all kinds of uses.

“There is no toilet and the people are using free spaces for a toilet.

“The adult girls are staying with their families in the marketplace. Their parents are very anxious about their daughters because at nighttime they have to stay with lots of unknown people together in the marketplace.”

And perhaps saddest of all …

“This morning we received very sad news about one of the children we assist. Her mother committed suicide just after the cyclone disaster. Their house was broken down and she committed suicide out of her frustrations. She lost her husband last year during Cyclone Sidr. She faced many challenges last year and finally gave up. [The children] are now orphans and vulnerable. They lost their father and mother in two consecutive cyclones. Please join us in pray for these children.”

Oh, God.

It feels like it’s too much, doesn’t it? When I read stuff like this, I find myself begging Jesus to hurry up and return and make all things right. It’s difficult not to get overwhelmed with despair.

The crazy thing is, though, God has placed Compassion right in the midst of this mess. Because of our unique church-based structure, our child development centers are distributing food and water where even relief agencies haven’t been able to access!

Families who lost their homes and have nowhere to cook are receiving hot meals at the child development centers. During the next few weeks, the centers will provide them with dry food, oral rehydration therapy and water purification tablets.

Here are a few of David’s photos. As you look at them, pray for the people in the photos and the thousands more you don’t see who are in similar desperate situations.

If you sponsor a child in Bangladesh and your child has been affected by Cyclone Aila, we will contact you as soon as we receive information about your child.