By Formosan Relief Team (Originally in Chinese)
Cyclone Roanu touched down in Bangladesh on May 21, 2016, causing devastating damage on the southern coast. At least 27 people were killed, more than 500,000 people were evacuated to shelters, and 1.3 million were affected. The cyclone brought winds as strong as 90 kilometers per hour and waves as high as two meters, which engulfed more than 80 villages in the south, and destroyed over 80,000 buildings.
Upon learning the news, Supreme Master Ching Hai immediately provided a US$16,000 fund, and instructed our Association members to provide relief assistance. Our Formosa Center also contributed US$201. A team consisting of four members from Formosa and one member from Singapore, who is also an interpreter, immediately left for Bangladesh.
On May 26, our relief team arrived at the home of a Convenient Method practitioner, Mr. Khondoke, who lives in Chittagong. We discussed the disaster areas we needed to visit and the amount of relief items we needed to prepare. Because the disaster areas were very widespread and many villages were affected, we decided to focus on the villages that were most severely damaged, and had not received any aid from other international organizations. We were able to identify eight such villages and 1,600 households that were in need of assistance. We started purchasing and packaging relief items right away. Mr. Khondoke had already asked his relatives to help with the relief work before we left Formosa. With the cooperation from everyone, by the next morning, we had already packaged relief items that could be distributed to 1,200 households.
We visited four villages on the morning of May 27, and handed out 200 relief packages in each village. The last village, the Banshkhali Upazila Village, was like an island after it was hit by the flash flooding due to the cyclone, and was difficult to get to. Because the road was badly damaged, we had to travel with the relief items by boat. However, as the harbor was completely damaged and the tide was going out, the big boat that was going to be used had to anchor in a distant place. The villagers then used a small boat to transport us and the items to the shore. The village chief welcomed us warmly, and was very touched by Master’s love and Her effort to promote the vegan diet.
On May 28, we went to two other villages in remote areas to distribute 250 relief packages full of God’s love. In Bashbaria, the first village, the village chief and the residents had waited for us in the local school’s playground since the early morning. The houses that were damaged most in this village were the houses made of bamboo and mud.
As we were distributing relief items at the school in the second village of Kumira, we also handed out candy to students who were taking a break. In addition, we gave a lot of candies to the teacher so that he could use them as prizes for the students. When we finished our work, the village chief, the villagers, and the students all asked to take a picture together with us.
On May 29, we sent 300 packages of relief items to two villages on an island that was very far from Chittagong. When we arrived at the island by boat in the afternoon, the two village chiefs sent people and a car to pick us up and bring us to the villages. The village chief of Uttar Dhurung told us that the island was severely flooded, and a number of villagers were killed. The chief of the Barghope Village told us that since the residents lived in many different places, they decided to give the items to their children at the village school. When we arrived at the school’s playground, the students were already in line waiting for us. After listening to Master’s loving story, the students came to receive the packages one by one.
When we saw the contented and happy smiles from the villagers and Mr. Khondoke’s relatives, all of the relief team members felt love, happiness and abundant blessings from God. Our deep gratitude to God for giving us the opportunity to learn the true meaning of “giving is better than receiving,” and that sharing is the most powerful form of love.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Cyclone Roanu Relief Work in Bangladesh
|Food (rice, oil and potatoes) and candy||1,049,960||A|
|Wages for local labor||37,500||B|
|Total|| BDT 1,296,080
Note: The relief team members paid US$5,155 for their own transportation.