Nearly a year after massive and powerful Cyclone Sidr battered Bangladesh’s southern coast, Direct Relief continues to help with recovery. The size of Iowa, Bangladesh is home to more than 153 million people, nearly half of whom live on less than $1 per day and have extremely limited resources. Thanks to generous donations received on behalf of cyclone victims, Direct Relief recently awarded grants to three organizations doing especially innovative and effective work to help the people of Bangladesh rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha (SSS) was established in 1982 to upgrade the standard of living for socially disadvantaged, politically powerless, and economically vulnerable people and communities in rural Bangladesh who are affected by annual flooding. The organization works in the country’s northern districts, which are covered with rivers and wetlands.
Because health services are not available to the villagers who live in these remote areas, many of them suffer from extremely high rates of malnutrition and waterborne diseases. Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha uses boats to reach these isolated populations with healthcare and health education services, making the organization particularly well suited to respond in emergencies. It provides free medical clinics, schools, libraries, and training facilities, all on boats outfitted with solar power, computers, Internet access, and other supplies. A $10,000 grant to SSS will cover expenses incurred in providing healthcare, food, and economic aid to people affected by Cyclone Sidr.
The Hope Foundation was created by a U.S.-based Bangladeshi doctor to provide medical care for the village in which he was raised. Building on land his family owned and with his own money, he constructed, staffed, and supplied a hospital and five primary-care clinics. He is now expanding this unique model across the country, accepting land and financial contributions from other expatriate Bangladeshis who want to improve their home villages. Finding land to build on is typically the biggest challenge in Bangladesh; construction is comparatively easy. A $10,000 grant to the Hope Foundation will set up two medical clinics in a region hit by an average of 10 cyclones every year.
Sangkalpa Trust, founded in 1984, has launched programs aimed at strengthening education, healthcare services, water and sanitation, microfinance, and disaster management in the southern, disaster-prone area of Barguna. When Cyclone Sidr hit this area, Sangkalpa Trust was immediately able to provide comprehensive services including education, shelter, food, counseling, entertainment, water, reconstruction, microfinance loans, and healthcare. Direct Relief’s $10,000 grant will fund the ongoing services and care Sangkalpa provides to the population affected by Cyclone Sidr.
Including these recent grants, Direct Relief has provided more than $2.8 million in aid in response to Cyclone Sidr.