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Post-tsunami, water filters help save lives

JAKARTA, Indonesia (BP)––Fifty families in a coastal village of Myanmar (Burma) were struggling to survive without drinking water after a 10-foot tsunami swept away their homes this fall. A Southern Baptist Disaster Relief assessment team discovered the families were not being helped by any agency, and water filters were rushed to the scene to prevent loss of life from waterborne disease.

The wave that swept over the village was created by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake on the same fault line that spawned the 2004 monster wave that killed 230,000 people in countries with coastlines around the Indian Ocean.

The death toll from the tsunami on Oct. 26 of this year was estimated at 400 in Indonesia alone.

Strong winds and rough seas made it difficult for rescue teams to get to the affected areas, which can only be reached by boat. A national partner working with Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization, reached a small village in Myanmar where 45 families and a church building had once stood.

Nothing remained but families huddled under temporary shelters.

“It’s a heartbreaking moment to see nothing left from this small and beautiful village,” the partner reported, “A creek behind the village allowed the wave to hit them from two directions.”

The director of the relief project noted that Southern Baptists’ World Hunger Fund would provide clean drinking water to the victims in places like the town of Bago, Myanmar.

“There are 50 families that have become very sick in the aftermath of the floods,” the project director reported. “Their homes have been in four to five feet of water. They have no source of drinking water.”

The water filters, which are being distributed in partnership with local YMCA and church staff, will allow the families to live healthy lives, the project director explained.

“Instead of drinking dangerous bacteria-laden water, they will drink healthy water and not be sick on a regular basis,” the project director said. “They will be able to be healthy to contribute to work and make a better life for their family. It will improve the lives of the whole community.”

The water filters could be purchased immediately and rushed to the scene because of generous donations to the World Hunger Fund, said Ben Wolf, who with his wife Pam directs work in the Asia Rim for Baptist Global Response.

“If it wasn’t for people who care about people in need, we wouldn’t have the resources on hand to meet a crucial need like this. People would have died without the opportunity to know about and experience the love of God,” Wolf said. “Please pray that the recipients of the filters will see this met need as a sign that there is a God who loves them and wants to give them a bigger and better gift.”
Mark Kelly is assistant editor and senior writer for Baptist Press. Baptist Global Response is on the Internet at www.gobgr.org.

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  • Mark Kelly