When a super cyclone damaged a crucial road and many homes in Bangladesh, an unlikely crisis response team came to the rescue. The Joyti Bible Study Group used their initiative and readiness to reach out to their neighbours. Without them, many people would not have been able to recover from the shock of this storm. The study group came together to repair the road and embankment and support people affected.
For community leader and group member Komola Sarker (38), this is just one example of how she’s been putting her Transforming Communities training modules into practice. After studying Tearfund’s course, Komola recognised how seriously her neighbourhood was at risk of floods during heavy rains and that the church needed to take the first steps to support their community. With the group, she started planning ways to help solve problems and look after their neighbours.
After the storm hit, joint efforts to fix the road helped the church and community to be more united. Since then, Komola and her Bible Study Group have worked with local government and non-governmental organisations to offer other kinds of support. For example, supporting funeral arrangements for people in the community and advising on disaster management.
Komola has received national awards for her community work and is frequently consulted by government leaders looking for advice on disaster management, but she says that it was her faith and her Bible study group that has helped her to grow into the person she is now.
After joining the Bible study group I experienced a huge change in my life. I was born and brought up in a family with very little money. My parents were not able to educate us and we had to go through a lot of hardship. Even when I was married, my husband was not well off. He worked as a day labourer and we lived from hand to mouth.
Komola, whose marriage was settled at an early age, received training with Tearfund’s partner Shalom. Through the training she started to repair the difficult relationships that she had with her family and community. She has since gone on to work with the local government on reducing child marriage and sexual and gender-based violence.
Although at times life is still challenging for Komola, her sense of purpose and her problem-solving mindset are proving to be of huge benefit to her family and community as they work to lift themselves out of poverty.
Prabu Deepan, who heads up Tearfund’s work in Asia said:
When disasters happen the church can act as a first responder. Tearfund’s work supports people like Komola to have a plan and be ready. This Lent, at a time when resources are stretched and funds are not going as far as they used to, we are appealing for funds to support Tearfund’s work in places around the world where it is most needed.
To donate to Tearfund’s Lent Appeal, please go to [tearfund.org/lent].