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.
This past August, a flood occurred in the outer regions of the capital of Sierra Leone, triggering a major mudslide that killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people.
"Every year it floods in Freetown, and every year people are displaced, and every year people exaggerate about the true impact of the floods, so when I first heard about the flood I did not think much of it," IDES' partner in the region said. Little did he know that this was much worse than anything he had witnessed before.
It started just before dinner time.
While all of the adults in the village were finishing their days' work in the fields, the children were responsible for preparing the evening meal. In the rural hillsides of Myanmar, these families rely upon fire for cooking each day. It is the children's responsibility to cook and to complete other household chores, as there are very few schools in the area for them to attend. The children had completed their tasks many times prior without any difficulty. But, on this particular evening, an accident occurred. One of the cooking fires started by the children jumped from its pit, sparking over the ground and floor nearby.
"Disasters are opportunities for evangelism." At IDES, we abide by this phrase and mindset. No matter how devastating a disaster is to a community, we believe that God has a greater purpose for good.
Thanks to your generosity, the hope of the Gospel was made possible through physical assistance following several major rain-storms in Cambodia.
IDES' U.S. Disaster Response Coordinators are on their way back from Florida. It has been a productive two weeks!
During their time, they worked with volunteers from local churches in Fleming Island and Valrico, Florida to build 20 storage sheds for families who have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Those who received sheds were grateful and excited, as these buildings meet such a niche need following a disaster like this.
In one case, a gentleman had decided to stay on his property despite its damaged condition in order to protect his property from looting and break-ins. After receiving the shed, he was able to store his salvageable belongings inside of it securely, knowing that his property would be safe.
This a huge burden lifted off of the shoulders of these families, many of whom would have had to pay out-of-pocket for storage units for their belongings while their homes are being repaired. The sheds also serve as an outreach tool for the local churches in the area to show the love of Jesus Christ in a practical way. Your willingness to partner with IDES is making hope possible for these families.
In Puerto Rico, recovery work continues as IDES partners with a local church and a local Christian school in the area. Emergency food, water, clothing, and other basic necessities are being provided for families who have the most urgent needs. Thanks to your generosity, $40,000 of aid has been provided through these partners in order to bless those who have been affected by Hurricane Maria. The rebuilding process will begin in the near future.
We ask that you would continue to pray for the many families who are still displaced from their homes and communities due to these storms. It has been a devastating late summer season, but we have hope that God will use all things together for good. Thank you for making hope possible through your generosity.
(Click "Read More" to see photos from Florida and Puerto Rico)
IDES' staff members recently returned from the Houston, TX area, but the hard work of recovery continues.
Thanks to the hundreds of volunteers from local churches in the area, 30 storage sheds were built for families whose homes were damaged by flooding. The sheds can be used for safely storing belongings while one's home is being repaired. This gift allows a recipient to save hundreds of dollars per month on storage solutions and to put that money towards their recovery.
We were blessed to sit down with Dottie and Woody who received a shed, as well as Deborah (a.k.a. "Nanna") who received a shed, as they shared their stories with us which you can view below.
As we continue our response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we have already made contact last week with local churches throughout Florida prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall. The storm has begun to dissipate, and we praise God for that. As the waters recede and the churches we contacted are able to return to their communities, damage assessments will soon be underway.
IDES is prepared to respond to the needs of the affected communities in the name of Jesus. Please pray for both the families who are recovering in Texas, and for the families in Florida who are now in need. Stay tuned here on our profile, or on our website for the most up-to-date information on our response efforts.
You can make hope possible. If you would like to donate to assist hurricane victims in Florida or Texas, please click the button below and choose "Hurricane" as your designation at the bottom of the form. Or, you can send a check to IDES, PO Box 379, Noblesville, IN 46061.
As of this morning, IDES' first two loads of storage sheds have safely made it to Katy, TX. For the next several days, volunteers from the local churches in the area will be building these sheds for families whose homes were affected by the flooding. These families will then be able to use the sheds to store their belongings as their homes are repaired. IDES' US Disaster Response Coordinator is on the ground and leading the shed-building process with the local churches.
Volunteers from several of the churches have already been furiously working to help families tear out soggy dry-wall and sort through their belongings. This road will be a long one, but we are happy to report that "recovery" has officially begun. Your generosity is making hope possible in Jesus' name for these families.
One of our supporters, Kathy, graciously offered to share a story with us from a lady named Renee who is receiving one of IDES' sheds that you provided.