When the Water Rises

When the Water Rises

By: Sean Sheridan, contributing writer   |   Posted: September 30, 2004

In parts of Bangladesh where the flood waters were the highest, children had to be taken by canoe to the local church to be registered into the Compassion program.

The rain began innocently enough. But for many children in Dhaka Slum School at the Shatarkul Child Sponsorship Program (BD-101), near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, the raindrops hitting the roof this summer were not a welcome sound. Some of the children were old enough to remember the downpour and subsequent flood of 1998. Each of them silently prayed that this rain wouldn't be like that one.

Devastating Aftermath

But it was. And then the flooding started. The flood, which began in July, affected more than 44 million people, or 30 percent of the country's population. More than 500 people have died. As much havoc as the floods cause, their aftermath is often worse.

"I was here during the 1998 flood," says Kevin Stout, Compassion Bangladesh country director. "I forgot how much water moves through Bangladesh. What will happen after the flood when people need to rebuild their houses? Where will the money come from if they have already sold everything of value to stay alive during the flood?"

Vital Relief

Fortunately the school is assisted by Compassion. Compassion stepped in after the school's entire first floor and all the homes of the 112 registered children disappeared under the force of floodwaters. Compassion's Disaster Relief Fund provided $7,500 for the project's flood victims. Each family of a registered child received 20 days of basic necessities like rice, salt, sugar, milk, clean water, clothes and soap.

The relief was essential to this poverty-stricken nation. The flood aftermath displaced sewage that allowed waterborne diseases to run rampant and caused diarrhea. Crops were destroyed, leaving entire communities wondering how they were going to feed themselves. In a country where three out of four children below the age of 12 are malnourished even when it's not flooding, child sponsorship and disaster relief have paved the way for hope to flourish.

Bringing Hope

"The poverty in Bangladesh is staggering," says Wess Stafford, Compassion's president. "By partnering with local churches in the community, Compassion can bring hope to the children in this country."

Despite devastating floods like the one this July, the children of Dhaka Slum School are back in class. And this time, they know, even if it starts to rain again, no amount of flooding can wash away their hope.

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