In a previous report we described the lack of aid provided to Christians in Kerala by Hindu groups, an account which has been verified by several independent pastors. Working with Grace Community Global Church we have been providing help to some of those forgotten Christians in the area of Changenachary, Kottayam District.
A recap of our initial report on the floods in Kerala can be read (here)
Victims have been provided food and shelter in a temporary relief camp set up in Grace Community Global Church, but funding has also helped them transport food by boat to harder to reach communities. The same boats have been used to transport people to a health camp held at his church to tackle the ongoing spread of waterborne and water-related illnesses, including Dengue Fever, Malaria and amoebic dysentery. Our provision also included bottles of clean water to help prevent disease and we will be continuing to provide health checks and treatments as is necessary. We will be monitoring the clean water situation as waterborne-illness remains a problem and will be investigating the need for water pumps to provide a longer term solution as many existing facilities have been washed away.
The Kerala flood of 2018 is reported to be the worst since a similar flood in 1924 and has already taken over 445 lives many dying from infections and waterborne illnesses, snakes and even some individuals committing suicide as a consequence of the great loss they have suffered. Read more (click here for Gulf news article).
In some areas of Kerala the floods have washed away deep layers of top soil removing the necessary sponge to retain water resulting in drought regions, which brings up another set of difficulties for survivors.
Many people have returned to their homes as the flood waters dissipated. The overwhelming loss has resulted in a number of suicides but so far none of them have been from members of the Christian community. The Government of India has agreed to pay compensation of 10,000 Indian Rupees (£105) and further help on assessment of damages to their property, to every flood victim family but the message came too late for those who had already taken their lives. The Government has already agreed to help rebuild homes that have been washed away but with over 200,000 homes lost many will have to wait an extremely long time for this to come to fruition. The promised compensation could take several months to reach victims. Especially in rural regions such as the one that Pastor Sajith is helping with.
At one point there were close to 2000 relief camps serving over 1 million displaced people however large numbers of people are returning to their homes now as the flood waters have receded and safety has returned. A mammoth task lays before these beleaguered people now as they start the effort to return their lives to the stability they had pre-flood.
Pastor Sajith from Grace Community Global Church spoke to the BPCA, he said:
“Things are coming under control. People are leaving the relief camps and returning home but most of them have to rebuild their house and a few need to repair their house.”
“There is some help from the Government but it is only reaching people in the larger cities, not rural areas.
“Over the last 5 days we have been providing medical camps with doctors in our fellowship and people are being healed through medical treatments and through prayer.
“We will soon be closing our relief camp as few people remain and less people need help with food and water and shelter. We will now be focusing on repairing and renewing homes and continuing our medical camps as there is so much sickness locally.”
Zoe Biju from Grace Community Global Church, said:
“When the rain stopped and the flood dissipated we were able to access the homes of survivors and were shocked at the destruction.
“Our team of volunteers have been helping people restore the lives by using pressure washer to clean existing houses as others await a rebuild.
“We will be helping people rebuild the homes that have washed away which is expensive work and will take months to complete.
Wilson Chowdhry. Chairman of British Asian Christian Association, said:
“The recent inundation in Kerala has devastated large swathes of the state and has caused huge community uncertainty and depression.
“Initial relief has focused on essentials such as shelter, food and water and then developed to encompass healthcare as concerns rose in the aftermath of the flood. There are reports that sickness is still a concern because of the condition of the water.
“Now agencies and organisations redirect their focus towards the longer term problem associated with rebuilding and repairing homes for families who have lost all their worldly possessions.
“This will be a long term effort and many will have to undergo a period of severe hardship till they can restore their lives to a level commensurate with the times before the flood. Any success will be based on the help of the global community.
“Pastor Sajith and his team are doing some wonderful work and we pray that many of you will respond to our appeal and help be a part of that restoration effort.”
Pastor Sajith and his team are carrying on their important work and we will continue to support them through our appeal. It is hard to estimate how much a rebuild will cost it will simply cost thousands. Pastor Sajith Joseph’s work will include biblically-based counselling for victims – If you would like to donate to this essential work please (click here)