Christian NGOs Helping Millions of Flood Victims in South Asia

NEW DELHI – Christian organizations are doing their best to help the victims of South Asia's fierce monsoon flooding, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives and left more than 20 million people homeless and displaced.

Official reports have claimed that more than 12 million people in India, 6 million in Bangladesh and 750,000 in Nepal are affected, and face severe food shortages and vulnerability to water-borne diseases.

According to the latest figures reported by Agence France-Presse, the number of people killed nationwide in the annual monsoon rains as of Sunday rose to at least 1,039.

Christian organizations like Tearfund, World Vision, Christian Aid, Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR), Canadian Food for the Hunger International and their partners in various states and regions are trying their best to reach to the victims.

In the worst-hit state of Bihar, where the death toll rose to 87 after seven more people drowned Saturday, Tearfund partner the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) is providing food, medical kits, water purification tablets and temporary shelters to affected communities.

EHA is also running a mobile health clinic and trying to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases. It is also trying to maintain children's education by providing bags and school books, and giving seed to farmers who have lost everything.

Canadian Food for the Hunger International (CFHI)'s partner – the Discipleship Centre (DC) – has distributed food to low-caste families in two separate villages in Bihar's Darbanga District. The food packets included rice, lentils, sugar, cooking oil, potatoes, onions and tea leaves.

Together, EFICOR and DC are providing emergency relief to some 6,000 families in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. They are distributing enough food rations for three weeks as well as items such as cooking pots and sleeping mats to these families, with the help of their partner agencies and local churches.

World Vision has also been involved in rescue operations. Using small boats to cross swelling rivers, World Vision staff and volunteers in Assam, northeastern India, rescued 619 villagers trapped in floodwaters.

Furthermore, Franklin Joseph, director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs for World Vision in India, said that World Vision will provide people in the worst-hit regions of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in northern India with dry rations such as flattened rice and powdered wheat, as well as non-food items such as medicine, cooking utensils and clothing.

Meanwhile, to dispel the fear among non-Christians that believe Christians organizations may try to convert those they help, the Rev. Dino L. Touthang, general director of EFICOR, reiterated that while they have dealt with many disasters, his organization (and others) had never foisted Christianity on unfortunate people affected by disasters and said this would be against Christ's teachings.

Helping the needy unconditionally is the way of Christ, he affirmed.

On the Web: To help these flood victims through Christian organizations, visit the donation page of the following websites:

EFICOR : eficor.org
Christian Aid : christian-aid.org.uk
Tearfund : tearfund.org
Canadian Food for the Hunger International (CFHI) :  cfhi.ca
World Vision International : wvi.org