Turmoil in India

By: Staci Dennis

ORISSA, India - Political and religious turmoil has turned life upside down for the people of Orissa.

Earlier this year, attacks against Christian churches and communities intensified after a prominent Hindu leader was killed. Followers claimed he had been killed by Christians, igniting a series of violent attacks, church burnings, and lootings of homes and business.

Thousands were forced to flee their homes and seek safety and shelter in government refugee camps.

Families walked for three and four days with only items they could carry to reach camps where they thought life could continue on in safety.

"They had to leave all their belongings behind, and they didn't have any food," said Rajesh Dasari, with OB India. "Most of them didn't have any money to travel either. They carried no other clothes or footwear."

Yet for some, even the camps proved unsafe. Refugees told of how terrorists infiltrated the living areas, poisoned the water supply and set off bombs.

Operation Blessing India has reached out to various displacement camps in the region bringing much-needed food and counseling services. At a camp in Berhampur, relief packages containing food and other items such as sleeping mats, bed sheets, clothes, towels, a brush, toothpaste, soap and biscuits as well as other food items were handed out.

At a second camp, in the Gajpati district, OBI distributed rice, dal, cooking oil and more. In the Rayagada area, more than 1,000 refugees were packed in a small school with only seven rooms.

OBI distributed sleeping mats, bed sheets, blankets, towels, soap, nutritional drinks and biscuits to those families.

In total, more than 400 families received aid in Orissa.

OB India is also assisting with the medical treatment of a young woman who was attacked and set on fire by extremists.

To help ease tensions in the region, OB India leaders have met with local authorities to find effective ways to reach additional refugees in need.


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