Anglican Aid has launched an emergency appeal to construct flood proof homes in the south-east Indian province of Andhra Pradesh, where some 100,000 people were rendered homeless by flooding late last year.
The appeal comes as a result of Anglican Aid’s partnership with Eye Openers, a Christian organisation providing free eye and medical care to the neediest among India’s rural poor that recently reviewed the needs in the region. Eye Openers’ work, and the lives of many of the people that they helped and interacted with, were severely impacted by the November floods. Eye Openers own facilities in the region were submerged under eight feet of water.
“Our brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced terrible personal losses and disruption to their gospel, pastoral, medical, educational and humanitarian relief work,” says Anglican Aid director, David Mansfield. “In the midst of their own losses they are seeking to help thousands of local people with emergency food and medical supplies.
“Despite the chaos they are also trying to get their school and medical facilities back in some sort of working order so that they can resume these vital services.”
Dr David Moore, a Tamworth ophthalmologist and Eye Openers surgeon and trainer, recently returned from Andhra Pradesh and saw firsthand the conditions much of the local rural population were still living in four months after the flooding itself.
“There’s a widow there in her 70s who has no family, she never had any children, she was by herself, and earned her money by ironing clothes... She lost her home, and was left with four poles in the ground, and saris wrapped around for a bit of cover. She irons shirts at about a couple of cents a shirt, and as it is she will never ever recover.
“You’ve got families living under plastic tarps, next to the remains of their houses. We identified about 75 houses in that category, in a hundred metre strip along the river [the Thandada] where this colony is. There’s a small communal toilet there, but it was flooded and overrun, and when we went there there were faeces running out of it; it couldn’t be used. People had to just go to the toilet behind a bush or wherever they could find somewhere.”
The current appeal, seeking to raise $360,000, will be used to construct 100 flood-proof homes for the poorest of those displaced. The houses will include concrete floors and separate water and toilet facilities, which will not only protect against the elements, but will also help defend against secondary infections and diseases that often follow in the wake of flood.
“They’re exposed to the flooding, then they get dysentery, they get dehydrated and die,” says Dr Moore. “Eyeborn infections are there but not as much as what they pick up from poor sanitation. This has been more of an add on to our core job, because of the severity of the damage and the lack of any infrastructure or help for these people.”
The first eight houses are due to be completed in the next week, with the others commencing construction as funds become available.
“For the cost of a holiday to India for one person, we can provide a home for some of India’s most vulnerable people and support Eye Openers in their ongoing witness and service to their community,” says Mr Mansfield. “One home is an achievable goal for a family, home group, youth group, church or school.”