Joshe Bose is director of Love Your Neighbour (LYN), Global Care’s partner in Bangladesh. In the last three months, not only has LYN faced the coronavirus pandemic and a prolonged lockdown, but their area was also hit by a major cyclone. Joshe is trusting God for the future, and thankful for His provision so far.
“In the first week of lockdown, everything closed, including our pre-schools, and in the second week all the children in our homes had to be sent home. We have a contact person for each student, mainly relatives, and they had to go back to their guardians.
“We are very worried about the children. Most families are living in one tiny room and the whole family is confined there. If one person gets sick, everybody will be sick. We are trusting in the Lord that none of our children will be affected.
500 Hungry Families
“Most of the people in our locality travel to the other side of the river for work but the government won’t allow any transport to cross the river. Even the fishermen have lost their work because the owner of the fish farm can’t transport the fish to the big cities to sell.
“Usually people do not have much savings in our country. Our families are rural people and they have no savings because if they have money, they use it to buy a cow or a chicken. People could manage for one week but after that it became extremely difficult because they had nothing left.
“Using funds from Global Care, LYN has delivered 500 food packages to the children of our homes and pre-schools. Because the road network is closed during lockdown, we had to use water transport and deliver the food parcels by boat.
“We have sent 50 kilos of food per family, including rice, lentils and spices. These families hadn’t eaten properly for ten, maybe 15 days before this food arrived. They were passing their days without a proper meal and only water. They were so thankful when the food parcels arrived. We also distributed masks and soap.
“When we drop off the food packages we try to maintain social distancing. Our staff have hand sanitiser and masks and we are being as careful as we can. We can’t use PPE here because it is 34C and above and it’s just too hot to wear special clothes.”
Life was tough for this disadvantaged community, however, it was about to get even harder, with another storm (literally) on the horizon.
On 20 May, Cyclone Amphan made landfall in the Sundarbans, the coastal area of Bangladesh where LYN is based. It was predicted to be the worst cyclone in more than a decade, bringing back memories of Cyclone Sidr, which killed thousands of people here. Families faced the awful choice of packing into cyclone shelters despite the need to practise social distancing, or braving the storm. “We are all in very panic situation,” emailed Joshe.
Hundreds of people crammed into the three cyclone shelters, built by Global Care since the devastation of Cyclone Sidr. At 3pm BST Joshe texted Global Care’s operations team: “Winds are very strong, the skies are dark, the power is out and the people in the shelter are very scared. Please pray.”
Thankfully, miraculously, the storm, while fierce, did not cause even a fraction of the damage feared. “There is no loss of life in the local area!” texted Josh, with joy, after communication was restored. Praise God!
With the cyclone over, minds are firmly back on the coronavirus pandemic. A second food delivery has been agreed, this time targeted at small children, with a specific nutritional package. There is great concern that the youngest children will suffer the most with limited food availability. Stunting and developmental delay caused by malnutrition in the earliest years can have a lifelong impact.
Capacity to fight the coronavirus from a medical perspective is also extremely limited. Joshe explains: “There is only one government hospital in every district in Bangladesh, with only 10-15 beds and 2-3 doctors, and the doctors are not trained in how to deal with coronavirus patients.”
“We do worry about the future. Social distancing is impossible here because of the high density of the population and the lifestyle of the people. There can be no social distancing in the marketplace, for example. Normally people go to the martketplace every day for food, to sell things, to have tea or even to find their next job. It’s so busy, people are crowded together like crazy.
“We don’t know what the future holds but our team is doing everything we can and we are all praying for our children. We are so grateful to Global Care for supporting us and for your special contribution at this time.”
If you would like to support the nutritional packs for the youngest children, please use the links at the bottom of the page. Our coronavirus response work is being funded through our Children At Risk programme.