India

MCC housing reconstruction in Gujarat to expand

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AKRON, Pa. - Five months after their homes were destroyed during sectarian riots, thousands of people from Ahmedabad, western India, are still living in camps outside the city.
Hindus in Ahmedabad rioted in February after 50 Hindu political activists were killed in a nearby train attack that was blamed on Muslims. Some 11,000 homes were destroyed during the three-day riots.

Earlier this summer, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) funded repairs to eight homes damaged during the riots. St. Mary's Women's Improvement Center, a local MCC partner agency, oversaw the reconstruction work. Most homes in Ahmedabad are row houses built of cement and wooden beams with tin roofs.

On a recent trip from Kolkata to Ahmedabad, MCC India workers met the eight recipient families.

"We learned the horrifying details of those three fear-filled days of rioting," said Twila Miller, MCC India co-representative. Rioters torched homes and vehicles; hundreds of people were killed.

"We also saw the solid walls and bright interiors of the rebuilt houses," Miller said. Recipients repeatedly thanked her for MCC's contribution .

MCC workers also learned that thousands of Ahmedabad residents are still without means to repair their homes. Most continue to live in makeshift camps outside the city. Several aid agencies are working to help the families, but not all have been reached.

MCC is contributing $79,000 Cdn./$50,000 U.S. to repair homes for an additional 50 families.

The Catholic nuns who run the 40-year-old St. Mary's center are overseeing the reconstruction. After earthquakes struck Gujarat in 2001, sisters from St. Mary's supervised the rebuilding of 400 homes.

Twila Miller, of Akron, Pa., is MCC country co-representative in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. She is a member of Akron Mennonite Church.

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=A9 2002 Mennonite Central Committee

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