An estimated 50,000 people across Sri Lanka have been affected by severe flooding after Cyclone Nilam battered the Bay of Bengal at the end of October. BMS World Mission is responding to the natural disaster.
Worst hit is the Mullaithivu district in the northern part of the country, where more than 5,500 people have been left homeless and without basic needs, such as food and medicine. Life here was already hard following civil war.

Several roads have been cut off due to heavy flooding. Families are moving into improvised camps set up in schools to seek refuge.

Essential aid

BMS’ established partner Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service (LEADS) is a Christian community development organization in Sri Lanka. It is responding quickly and efficiently to this situation by providing essential aid. BMS has sent a relief grant of more than $15,500 (9,750 British pounds) to assist in this work.

LEADS is specifically helping more than 700 people, comprising 178 families in Sooriyapuram, an area affected very recently by war and where people were living in makeshift shelters before last month’s rains came.

In cooperation with the government, LEADS is providing them with tarpaulin sheets and floor sheets for shelter support, the provision of basic kitchen utensils for cooking, medical and hygiene kits and dry rations.

Field workers transport the supplies directly to where they are needed most. 

Priority is going to people with disabilities, pregnant women, female-headed households and families with children younger than 5 years old.

“Due to the their recent return to the area after civil war, the families are unaware and at a loss as to how they should care for their families, in the midst of no shelter, sanitation or facilities to prepare meals,” a LEADS representative said.

“Income levels are at an all-time low, with whatever little earnings they had now far gone.”

Fragile lives

Steve Sanderson, BMS manager for mission projects, admits that with so much of the world’s media attention focusing on Hurricane Sandy’s destruction to the East Coast of the U.S., particularly New York and New Jersey, it’s all too easy to overlook places like Sri Lanka. 

“The difference is of course that in Sri Lanka, the local capacity to recover is much, much weaker,” he said.

“People in the hurricane-affected area are also struggling to recover from the effects of civil war, so the recent natural disaster has compounded the plight of a number of communities who are already extremely fragile.

“Sri Lanka remains a very needy place and, in LEADS, we have an excellent and highly professional partner who is delivering an appropriate response to disaster-affected communities in the name of Jesus.”

This article first appeared on the BMS World Mission blog.

BMS World Mission has worked in Sri Lanka for more than 150 years. Read other examples of how BMS has partnered with LEADS in relief work following war and flooding in the past few years. BMS cannot respond to disasters like this without help. Please donate to relief appeal today.

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