Bangladesh - Cyclone Sidr

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By Paul Dukes, MAF Maintenance Specialist, Turbine/Float

MAF Air Support." We are a non-governmental organization (NGO) operating out of the city of Dhaka, the capital of the country.

So, you ask, why am I here?

I was asked to help out with the maintenance of its Cessna Caravan on amphibian floats after the country was hit with Cyclone Sidr Nov. 15.

Sidr hit the country with 155 mph winds and was over 100 miles wide, sweeping up through the country from the

Bay of Bengal and killing an estimated 4,000 people. It left thousands missing or injured, and displaced two million people.

The MAF team here has been working seven days a week from dawn to dusk ever since.

It was my privilege yesterday to ride along on a flight to one of the hardest hit areas.

I went with missionaries Will and Carol Smith. They were going to the area south of the city of Sarankhola to see what the need was, and how they could help out.

We landed near the edge of the river and anchored the aircraft. A boat came out to meet us and take us ashore. We were taken up a little river to the village of Chalrandha. As we rode along you could see damage on all sides. We climbed out of the boat and up onto the dike that was 10 feet high. We were told the water had come 10 feet above the dike. All along the dike were temporary shelters that people had built and moved into after their homes were destroyed.

Everyone had a story for us and wanted to show us their home - or where it had been. The Cyclone was no respecter of age. It hit old and young alike.

It was especially hard on the children, both those that survived and the numbers that were killed was terrible. Many lost parents. Parents had children torn out of their arms as they were no longer able to hold on to them. This grave has six people buried here - four children and two adults.

Cyclone Sidr not only took away their homes and their family members, but their livelihood and food supply. This boat was carried inland and crashed here, left in ruins. The boat now lays hundreds of feet from the river, where it was once used to fish and transport supplies.

The fields of rice were ready for harvest and are now left to waste because all the rice has dropped from the plants, shed as the winds tore through the village.

Drinking water is contaminated by salt water, and there is a stench in the air from the ponds of water that are all polluted by decaying animals.

There were 28 homes in this village. Only a few remain. Typically, four families live in each home. It is very humbling to see these people, who are so poor and have so little, lose it all and now have nothing. We are the first people from outside to come to see this village, two weeks after the cyclone has hit.

The good news is that Will Smith is going to be able to help them rebuild their lives. He will provide the funding and manpower to build new homes for these people. They will bring food supplies and rice seedlings to replant their fields.

My prayer is that God would flood these people with His love, and that they in turn would come to know Him.

Please keep the MAF Bangladesh team in your prayers as they work long days to meet the needs of this country after the disaster.