At the end of the summer, political divisions deepened in the Bengal region of India.
Tensions rose as a fundamental political faction began campaigning to prevent and remove the teaching of another, less indigenous language in public schools. What started as a political divide quickly devolved into personal attacks and vicious nationalism. The tensions climaxed with a region-wide general strike in the midst of violent clashes between opposing sides. Bengali government forces moved in to contain the clashing, effectively shutting down the regional marketplaces and halting the local economy.
This left thousands of tea-farming families without a way to buy, sell, and trade their goods leading to a hunger crisis of severe proportions. The strike officially lasted 104 days, leaving many people in the grips of starvation. It remains true that not all disasters are natural -- many are man-caused.
Thanks to your generosity, IDES partnered with a local mission and church in the region to provide emergency food and medicines for 1,230 families who were affected by the conflict. By the grace of God, our partner was able and willing to share six specific stories from families who received the assistance in Jesus' name.
Story 1 - Mahendra
"Mahendra was working in the tea fields in the area. He has a wife and two girls at home. He was getting his wages on weekly basis. Due to much unrest in the area for over 100 days, to no shops and no markets being open in the whole state, Mahendra went into depression and his mental condition was not stable. He was very much concerned about food for the family and the education of his children. Our team provided them the food and medicines and prayed for them and shared the love of Jesus Christ. They were deeply moved and he was able to recover. He and his family remain grateful to IDES and our team."
Story 2 - Shanku
"Shanku was also working in the tea fields in the area. He has a wife, 3 sons and 3 grandchildren in the family. Being a big family, he had to face more problems. Therefore he went to the forest and collected [wild] leaves and roots to eat. Due to continuous eating of the leaves and roots, their bodies got infected and they became extremely sick. There was no money for treatment. Our team supplied them food and medicines. They came back to their routine life and had enough food for 3 months. Above all they were reached with the love and message of Christ as the local church extended their loving arms to them. They are very grateful to IDES and our team."
Story 3 - Renuka
"Renuka is living in a hut with her daughter and granddaughter. She is 85. Her daughter was working in the tea fields. Due to the unrest over for 100 days, there were no markets open, no shops, nothing was available. Renuka started begging. Since there was nobody there to give her anything (almost all poorer families were in the same condition) and the situation of the family was worsened. They were about to die due to starvation. When our team supplied food and medicines, they were very happy. Our team has shared the love of Christ with them. They are thankful and praying for IDES and our team. They became part of the local church now and they came back to a routine life."
Story 4 - Runju
"Runju is a widow having 3 children. Her husband disowned her sometime back. She takes care of her father-in-law also, who is completely dependent on her. Runju had no work in their village [during the conflict]. She went out of the village in search of work as a housemaid. She never received any money, but [did receive] some food only for some days. Her father-in-law was about to die due to starvation. When our team supplied the food items and medicines, they were able to recover and his life was saved. They have enough food for 3 months. Our team was able to share with them the love and message of Christ. They remain grateful to IDES and our team. Now their family is part of the local church."
Story 5 - Sandeep
"Sandeep was working in the tea fields with his brother and his wife. His wife, son and his brother all live in his home. Due to continuous unrest for over 3 months there was nothing left for them to eat. They decided to leave their place and go somewhere in search of food. But all the roads were blocked due to the unrest. Sandeep was thinking of committing suicide. But, his family members were trying to help him understand. Just in time, our team was able to meet this family. Sandeep found hope to live and received the message of Jesus. Our team with the local church members provided all the food items, medicines and also prayed with him. They are seekers of the truth. The whole family remains grateful to IDES and our team."
Story 6 - Susheela
"Susheela is in her mid-seventies. She, her daughter and her granddaughter were working in a local herbal garden. The only source of profits in that region is the herbal garden. The unrest of that area made their life miserable. They were eating bamboo shoots and roots of wild plants to survive. Finally her granddaughter became extremely sick. They were not able to take the girl for treatment because all roads were closed and there was not transportation available. When our team with the medical care and food reached their area, we could give them medicine, food and prayer support. Now they all have food, they received love and care and above all Christ Jesus. They are thankful to IDES and our team."
Your love made hope possible for these families in desperate need. They were suffering from hunger and fear due to circumstances totally outside of their control, a sociopolitical conflict no less. But, by the grace of God, they now have the food, medicine, and care that they need. Thank you for supporting IDES on behalf of these beautiful souls.