The relief-and-development arm of a worldwide Baptist organization has issued a special appeal for donations for victims of floods in South Asia that displaced an estimated 10 million to 20 million people in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Baptist World Aid has sent initial grants of $5,000 each to the Bengal Baptist Union and the Bengal Orissa Bihar Baptist Churches Association in India.
Annual monsoons are normal in that part of the world, but this year’s rains are reported to be the worst in years. The BBC reported that roads have been washed away and hundreds of villages have been cut off by swollen rivers. Experts say the disaster could be far worse than record-breaking floods in 1998 and 1999.
The poor often suffer most in such situtations, said Paul Montacute, head of BWorldAid, the relief-and-development arm of the Baptist World Alliance.
“The poor live on low-lying ground or on land that is easily swept away as waters descend from the mountains,” Montacute explained.
Montacute said many of those people have taken shelter in whatever high ground they can find and depend on food drops to survive. There is also concern about spread of diseases such as malaria and encephalitis.
BWAid is working with and through members of the BWA in programs to bring immediate relief. The Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship is already engaged in emergency relief operations, Montacute said. Six teams are providing flood victims with some dried food, but funds to purchase the food are already running out.
“Children and old men and women are suffering the most,” said Nripen Baidya, the Bangladesh program director for Baptist Aid, who has visited the hardest-hit areas.
“Baptist Aid would be happy to meet some (more) of the needs of these suffering people,” he said. “We are in prayer. We also need the prayer support from our friends all over the world.”
BWAid is also awaiting relief proposals from other Baptist groups in the region, so that assistance can be given to those in most need.
Montacute said donations, which are tax-exempt, should be designated “Asia Floods.” Information on how to donate is here.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.