In photo: Believer in Bangladesh affected by Covid-19 and recent flooding
Bangladesh, like many other countries around the world, has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, when the country went into lockdown beginning March. It lasted for three months, up to May, affecting many low-income earners, such as day laborers, factory workers and peasants, who lost their jobs. Whatever meagre earnings they had, and savings, if any, quickly ran out. Thousands of families then went hungry, with no money to buy food.
Christians were the most affected, as many were denied government aid because of their faith in Christ. “The authority thinks that we, Christians, get a lot of support from foreign Christian organizations, so they use that as an excuse to not give us our relief aid,” said Simon Chakma, a local believer.
And then, unexpectedly, cyclone Amphan hit the southern part of the country in May, followed by severe flooding in the northeast. These disasters, one after another, and within a span of days, exacerbated the sufferings of the people, especially believers.
These are the pigs distributed under the 2nd Phase Covid-19 Response Aid. Recipients promised to give back 50% so more can be helped.
Open Doors then responded with emergency relief distribution of food, such as rice, potatoes, salt, oil, dahl etc. We also provided tin sheets for believers to rebuild the roofs of their houses that were blown away by the wind. Overall, as at September 2020, Open Doors have distributed aid to more than 4,500 families, approximately 19,000 people.
They expressed their gratefulness for the help given. “We are very grateful to Allah (God) for His provision. I cannot explain how hard it is to manage food for the family. Present time is very terrible. I need work, but no work is available. We do not get help from the government. Amid the crisis, this support (relief) is really a huge help for my family. Thank you for your kind heart to us,” said Omar Ali, one of the beneficiaries.
Help them in the long run
Praise God that these relief aid projects can meet the immediate needs of these believers. But there is an urgent need to help them in the long run as scientists worldwide predicted that this pandemic is expected to last for another two years (link to CNN report) .
“Some of the believer’s source of income was from selling milk, but due to the crisis, they had to sell their cows, in order to feed their family. Some even sold their tailoring machine to buy food. They are now struggling to earn money as there are no work opportunities available. We need to provide them with some livelihood support,” said Pikul Madhuri, another partner.
Flooding caused by cyclone Amphan
As a result, Phase 2 of the Covid-19 Response Aid has been implemented for the survival of the Church in Bangladesh in the long run. These are social economic empowerment projects, where families of believers are provided with goats and pigs to rear, so they can earn an income.
Based on information from our partners, as at to date, Open Doors has already distributed pigs to 87 TBB families (tribal background), with each family receiving about 2-3 pigs. We have also distributed three goats to one family. They were so grateful that they promised to give back to their church about 50% of the income they will receive, so that the church can help other needy believers.
In the days to come, Open Doors is planning to expand its livelihood support of rearing animals to more needy believers all over Bangladesh.
- Pray for God to help our partners execute a good and an effective plan that will help believers and the local churches get through this crisis together in the long run.
- Pray for God to bless the livelihood projects of rearing pigs and goats, so that it will meet the needs of His people and that, they, in turn, will be a blessing to their own community
- Pray for all needy believers that they will encourage, strengthen and help one another in
this trying period.
Give now to Covid-19 Emergency Fund
Every HK$310 could deliver urgent aid to a believer isolated by persecution and Covid-19 in Asia.