Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Success Story that Could have been Much More

I recently wrote a story about the victims of the Sidr storm in November. The people, who had so little, and now have nothing. The people facing the monsoons with grim determination but not much hope. The victims of more than a storm, these are the victims of promises broken, time and time again. The people in these areas do not have the means to solve their own problems. They are in many ways like the poor victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (except that New Orleans is in America). The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is still receiving support from groups years after the storm. In this case, it seems Sidr is but a distant memory.

Here in Bangladesh, the MCC Housing Project has been receiving government officials as guests, officials who are praising the work MCC has done in providing emergency shelter for these victims at a cost well below what anyone imagined possible. These government officials are so impressed that they are willing to help us continue this work. This is a story of success in Sharankhola, in a district where much has been promised and little has been delivered. See the article from the Daily Star, This is a story of relief working, people in desperate need, who lost everything in an instant, 1400 families now have something they can build on, they have a place to escape the monsoon rains, they have a new place to call home. I want to say congratulations MCC.

But this story of success has an unfortunate ending. As predicted, and as always happens, when the storm is gone, and the people have no food and shelter, the rest of the world turns their backs. And people need not give to the same cause forever, emergency relief is just that, for emergencies. MCC cannot build houses for every victim of Sidr, it just is not possible, but MCC could do so much more with so little financial support. But decisions are made, and there are millions of people around the world who need that money, and despite the success of this story, we are not receiving anymore funds. We will finish off what is pledged to us, and unfortunately we will break the hearts of people who could have received an MCC built house. They will be, yet again, left in their tarpauline tents, to stew in the monsoons; hopefully they will survive and be able to continue rebuilding their lives in the years to come. Hopefully these people will not succumb to the elements, to disease or hunger, hopefully they will have life breathed back into them. I do also wish people in North America and other rich countries, would reconsider allowing this machine to run full force until the monsoons, until building must stop, and until there is nothing left for us to do. I wish this story could be more than a success, I wish it could be an enriching tale of the amazing work MCC does with those people the rest of the world has forgotten about. I wish MCC could be the role model in Bangladesh, that light of Christ that shines when the darkness falls.

This is my hope and my prayer, that the victims of this terrible tragedy that was Sidr and the tragedy to come, which is the monsoons, will find support and respite to give them a boost out of the hole of devastation. That someone will keep their promise and shine a light in the darkness to work with the most desperate of people.

May Peace Abide.

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