Journey towards Mahasen

ActionAid team and the Char Kajal union's Chairman of the locality listened to Gofran Mia (next to me) and other volunteers
Photo: Md. Abir/ActionAid
Officer- Social Networking

I believe in power of information and strength of people

We were responding to the deadliest garment-factory accident in history. After the rescue and needs assessment, we are standing by the RMG workers.

 

We have also been busy raising fund for the victims. But, ‘Mahasen’ had something other planned for letting us know the people’s readiness to fight disasters!

 

When I left Dhaka for Patuakhali, to assess the preparedness and contingency plan of the partner NGOs, cyclone ‘Mahasen’ was the talk of the town! According to the MET office, it was likely to hit Teknaf-Akyab coast or Chittagong or the Sundarbans. However changing its course it hit Patuakhali and adjacent places instead. And I was there.

 

Knowing the fact that Mahasen was going to hit, communities took necessary preparations. Luckily we had time to follow Mahasen in our Facebook page.

 

Right after I got to Patuakhali, danger signal was hoisted 7. District administration suspended movement of all fishing boats, trawlers and marine vessels.

 

Colleagues of South Asia Partnership Bangladesh closely monitored and helped the evacuation process. Our sponsored children and programme participants were also moved to cyclone centers. Volunteers from youth group and others were ready at both the Unions.

 

Mahasen did HIT… though considerably week – in the morning of May 16!

 

Gusty wind with speed of 80-90 kmph… heavy rain… network disruption… power cut and what not! The whirlwind continued till 12 PM.

 

Next day our team visited our working areas, the remotest chars. The sight was truly devastating!

 

Acres of seasonal crops lost, which would surely cause farmers huge debt. Hundreds and thousands of katcha and tin-shed houses fallen. ‘Child spaces,’ where children regularly spend time for learning and recreation, were damaged so bad that children were unable to attend sessions for days.

 

Still, the good news was that record number of people took shelter in the cyclone centers THANKS of the efforts like Gofran Mia, one of the volunteers.

 

People at first did not want to leave their homes! We relentlessly talked to them and finally managed to move them in a safer place.

 

Casualty was less than ever. And for that, Char Kajal union’s Chairman appreciated the timely dissemination of warning messages by the NGOs.

 

Even after all these destruction of houses and crops land, still people managed to MOVE ON with their life. Resilience, indeed.

 

The facilitators resumed the child spaces in the nearby primary schools. Farmers’ forum stood by the side of affected farmers with grant. Plus, we responded immediately with rapid need assessment in the affected community. As an immediate response, 93 damaged houses of the sponsor children will be rebuilt in a action led by women leaders. We have a video on it, which we named “Woman-Led Emergency Response.”

 

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