Category 5 super typhoon Haiyan, locally named "Yolanda" struck central Philippines islands of Leyte and Samar on November 8, 2013. It made a landfall of sustained windswept upto 235 km/h, a gust of 275 km/h and waves as high as 15m. We have seen the pictures and the reports on our TV News and in our papers. The numbers of those affected and the number of dead are still fluctuating as different reports come in. UN sources estimated 11 million people were affected with 673,000 displaced. Initial reports indicated at least 10,000 people had died in the storm. The official death toll began much lower but is still rising. Tacloban city in Leyte has received the most news coverage. It has been substantially destroyed by the storm and by the tidal surge that came with the storm.
With that vision, mission organisations have always done things like schools, hospitals and agricultural programmes. It is not possible to preach the Gospel to people sick or on the edge of starvation without trying to do something for them. The book of James says "Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!" (James 2:17 CEV). Working for the poor is bringing our faith into the real world and saying that it must result in compassion for those in need.
BANZAid is the aid and development department of the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS), working alongside tranzsend, MPIL and Mission World. As a development organisation we work by supporting projects that alleviate poverty, facilitate sustainable development, build local capacity and advocate for peace and justice in local communities.
Slave labour & death
All of you will have heard of the tragic collapse of a 9 storey clothing factory in Savar, Bangladesh - Wednesday morning, 24 April. Despite a 'structural crack' appearing the day before, the 3000 workers (mostly women) were coerced back inside. The building suddenly collapsed, trapping people between pan-caked floors. Who's to blame? Poverty, greed, corruption and a patronistic culture allowing powerful people to bypass rules and standards by paying bribes. The stories and pictures have been heart wrenching. There is an expectation (from ourselves and the watching world) that we should do something to help. However, many of us find it difficult to give useful assistance during the frequent Bangladesh disasters such as floods, ferry sinkings, cyclones, building collapses and factory fires. Professional Bangladeshi organisations related to search and rescue (army, civil defence, fire brigade, navy in the case of ferry disasters, specific NGOs) and medical assistance (Drs, hospitals, ambulance services) rapidly respond as they should do. At the time of writing this, 17 days after the building collapse, the death toll is 1117 and still rising, as bodies are recovered.