Today we begin our new parish charity project, supporting communities in the Mongla region of southern Bangladesh which are under threat because of natural disasters and environmental change.
The money we raise will be used by the Catholic agency, Caritas Bangladesh, to help people set up businesses which are adapting to changing conditions, and to be prepared for natural disasters when they occur.
Southern Bangladesh was recently hit by two cyclones in quick succession; local communities recovered well, but many people are extremely vulnerable if another major disaster should strike. Moreover, if sea levels rise by just 1 metre in this century, 15% of the land in Bangladesh will be underwater: millions of Bangladeshis would eventually be forced to leave their homes.
We will learn about one specific village called Kainmari (though many similar communities will also be helped). Kainmari is almost surrounded by water, and only a few miles from the regional capital of Mongla. St. Paul’s Catholic church is just across the bridge that also leads back to the main town.
Many livelihoods rely on shrimp farming, in large ponds that stretch out from the village centre. Drinking water is in short supply, with contamination by sea water common.
Through this project we will meet some of Kainmari, like a 45-year old mother called Sabita who chairs the disasters committee, shrimp farmer Pobitra who also runs a tea shop, and Caritas worker Ananda, who was raised a Catholic after his father converted from Hinduism.
More of their stories and the stories of other members of their community will be here on our website and on the display boards in our church north aisle. You can also check out the project blog at http://connect2bangladesh.wordpress.com.
Still use the large collecting box at the back of the church; Gift Aid envelopes available.