Helping Flood Victims for the Long-Term
October 22, 2009
CARROLLTON, Texas, (christiansunite.com) -- Dinanath Rangan, 50, watched as the rain kept pouring down. He was alone, working on a farm in a neighboring village while his wife and two children stayed at home. For two days, the waters wouldn't stop. When he discovered that the river that flowed through his home village had breached an embankment, he rushed home, but by the time he reached his village, his house was underwater.
Photo: The children in this photo are students in a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope Center. Flood waters still surround their home after more than a week.
Frantically looking for help, he managed to find a small, hand-crafted boat. He climbed in and started rowing toward his house. But the strong current beat against his tiny boat until it capsized, and Dinanath lost his life in the flood waters.
When GFA relief workers arrived in the area with aid, they met Dinanath's widow. Constant tears flowed down her cheeks as she received the relief materials. "Thank you," was all she could say.
GFA relief teams had stepped in when government workers weren't able to reach the area where Dinanath's widow resided.
"It was one village where we could not supply any help yet," a local government official said. "I appreciate [them] for coming forward to lend a hand of help and for supplying essential commodities to people who have lost everything."
So far GFA relief teams have helped thousands of families in the flooded Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka by supplying items like blankets, bed sheets, cooking utensils and towels. As the water recedes, the workers will stay on to rehabilitate and rebuild damaged homes.
"Ministering to the survivors of these catastrophic floods is a privilege that God has given us. Right now they need food, water, clean clothing and basic household utensils, which we are already providing," said GFA President, K.P. Yohannan. "We also know that when the water completely recedes they will need help rebuilding their lives. That's why we will be in these affected areas for the long-term to help them clean up or, in some cases, completely rebuild, their homes. We want to replace the livestock that was killed in the flood. We want to help them restore their lives."
In the meantime, GFA Compassion Services teams continue ministering to the immediate needs of the people caught in this unusual flooding situation.
Tanmay's family was one of many that received aid. After the floods covered his four acres of land and swept away everything he had, including crops, buffalo, cows and chickens, he and his family took shelter in a relief center opened by the government.
GFA-supported missionaries visited the relief camp and gave Tanmay and the other refugees blankets and household utensils.
"They had come to the relief camp virtually empty handed, and they were so grateful for the help we gave them," said a GFA field correspondent.
Fulfilling a Need
Besides food to eat and clean water to drink, victims of the floods were in desperate need of clothing and blankets to shield them from cold nights and ravenous mosquitoes. GFA relief teams have distributed clothing to about 2,475 people in Andhra Pradesh.
Santosh was a fisherman who lost his entire household and possessions in the rising flood waters. He was left with nothing until GFA relief workers helped him.
"Others gave us food and water, but you are the first person who helped us with clothes," Santosh said.
In one village in Andhra Pradesh, waters rose to 15 feet, collapsing 15 houses. Villagers fled to a government-operated relief camp, leaving everything behind.
GFA relief teams gave clothing to 250 families in that village.
"We had many sleepless nights due to cold and mosquitoes, and we had nothing to cover our bodies," one survivor said. "Now, God has sent you to provide our needs. You Christians are good and help all people without partiality."
The waters in another village of Andhra Pradesh rose to six feet. When the waters entered GFA-supported missionary Kundir Rao's church, he climbed on the roof and was stuck there for three days without any food or water.
When GFA relief workers arrived, Kundir received food and another 180 people received relief materials. The residents of Kundir's village welcomed the workers and thanked them for their help.
"Many gave us food, but you came from a far distance and gave us clothes," the villagers said. "This is the first time we received clothes. We are so thankful for your kind help in our time of need."
"God Sent His People to Help Us"
People fled their villages completely empty handed. Now, as they slowly begin to return to what used to be their homes, they take with them the materials given them by GFA relief workers---and a new understanding of the love of Christ.
"It is God who sent you to us," said a survivor. "Now, if we have to go back to our home, there is nothing except what you gave."
GFA relief workers are working around the clock to care for these men, women and children.
At 1:30 a.m., as one team traveled to the home of a local pastor, they spotted people sleeping on the roadside without blankets. The group stopped their journey and handed out blankets, clothing and towels. The distribution lasted until 3:30 a.m.
"At this midnight [in our lives], God sent His people to help us," said one recipient.
Gospel for Asia continues to provide relief to those suffering from the devastation of the floods that hit Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, India. It is estimated that a total of 10,000 families have been given aid through GFA, and the number is growing each day.
GFA relief teams stand ready to extend physical help and also share the Good News found in Jesus Christ to the ones in need. One GFA worker summed it up as he helped a survivor.
"We are here to help you," he said.
Gospel for Asia is an evangelical mission organization based in Carrollton involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.