At a recent community meeting under the
canopy of the village meeting hall in Uharsanda, India, a local official
praised The Salvation Army for assisting the 50 families of his village
whose homes were destroyed in the disastrous floods of July, when the water
level in the lower parts of the village rose more than 2.5 metres.
The official said Salvationists living in the village, used their hall - situated on an area of higher ground
- to shelter and feed 150 of the most vulnerable and needy people for four days. The official - a Hindu - commented that the Christians had shared food from their own stores with the poorest people, many of whom were elderly and without anyone else to support them. He thanked The Salvation Army for continuing that spirit of care and concern for the people of their community without regard to caste or creed - something evidenced by the distribution taking place in the village that day.
Following extensive consultation with the communities most affected by the floods, the people themselves identified galvanised roofing sheets as their most pressing need. As there are not sufficient funds to rebuild the houses entirely, the roofing sheets - supported by strong poles - will provide protection from the daytime heat, nightime cold and the rain. Subsequently, the people will be able gradually to rebuild their houses using traditional materials and techniques.
Captain Elizabeth Hayward, International Emergency Services Field Operations and Training Officer, visited the area to review the ongoing relief work. She writes: 'I was impressed that the villagers themselves participated in identifying the neediest beneficiaries. All homes were assessed and roofing sheets were distributed up to a maximum of 20 per household. Families who did not require their full allocation chose to make spare sheeting available to others. Because of this, an extra 100 families were included and 600 families helped.'
This relief programme has been made possible through a donation of $250,000 from The Salvation Army in Southern America, whose own communities have witnessed extensive damage this year from hurricanes.
In addition to the housing repair programme, relief work in India continues in Maharashtra. Two thousand families in the Mumbai area who lost their home contents in the flood are receiving recovery packages containing bedding, cooking utensils, water carriers, food vessels and cloth for children's school uniforms.
Donations in support of the ongoing emergency relief work in Asia can be sent to the South Asia Disaster Fund.