After 78 families a total of 330 Christians had lost their homes in what is believed to be an accidental fire caused by a burst gas cylinder, BACA were the first group to arrive at the scene of the devastation and raised the concern with Government officials. Working with Indian Christian partners 500k International who we connected with through one of our main donors work began towards restoring normal and improved living conditions for the hapless deprived Christians.
The original incident occurred on Sunday the 20th October 2019 while every member of the faithful Christian community of Sajjapuram Tanuka, Andra Pradesh, were attending church. It is believed that there would have been many deaths had the not been worshipping God. Though the fire is being attributed to a burst gas cylinder it is not known why the cylinder burst into flames destroying the previous thatched homes and most of the few possessions that the Christian residents owned. A full account with images and a video of the devastation can be read/viewed (here).
It is estimated that 2.5m rupees worth of loss occurred, including razed homes, money that was burnt, burned furniture and other possessions. Moreover, the deprived Christians had lost the means by which they made an income after the goods they sold also were destroyed by the fire. Most of them were street hawkers who sold balloons, hair products including real hair wigs, previously used utensils and acid.
The families were moved to an area of land that is at Ambedkar Bhavan in Tanuku and were provided tents by the Government, who it is believed will be providing new permanent homes. Local churches and the Lions Club initiated a food program ensuring that local residents were receiving rice, pulses and other cooking items along with essential cooking utensils a gas stove, a fan and 2-3 iron beds to each family.
Our partner organisation 100k international provided a strong, metal , fire-proof cupboard for each family, to help them store valuable items. However, coordinating with other local churches books, stationary and replacement uniforms for school children were provided. Three sets of clothes for all adults and children were also provided. Our Partner lead officer Immanuel Paspula, said:
“The cupboards were manufactured and sent from Hyderabad on 13th Jan in three loads of trucks separately.
“Distribution of the cupboards was completed on 17th Jan 2020 in the presence of the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) of Tanuku, Mr. Karumuri Venkata Nageshwara Rao.
“The distribution of cupboards was done in front of Bethel Reformed Church and transport was arranged to take the items to the locations of the beneficiaries.
“All the beneficiaries were present for the distribution ceremony and the documents were duly signed.”
British Asian Christian Association, is also pleased to confirm that with our help towards funding for a lawyer Pastor Newton was able to build his church that was originally demolished by the local council (click here). The court case was won in October and the new building completed in December in time for Christmas. Here are some images:
With some from help from BACA the 11 Pastors arrested for harassment in September were acquitted on 4th October 2019. You can read the original story (here).
Images below are from the delivery of cupboards to Christians in Sajjapuram Tanuka, Andra Pradesh