Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford spends six hours at the Cyclone SIDR Rehabilitation Project in Bangladesh

“I hope you are experiencing the gift of blessing for what you are doing. No day is a perfect day. Indeed it’s not the end. I’ll tell the story of what you are doing. Thank you and God bless you!”…These were the words of Jonathan Reckford when he met the volunteers and staff of Habitat Bangladesh at the Cyclone SIDR Rehabilitation project.

On 22nd of June Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford dedicated the first core shelter of the project. Jonathan Reckford visited the Cyclone SIDR Rehabilitation project in Mirjaganj, Patuakhali as part of his South Asian Tour and officially dedicated the first core shelter. Arnold Eby the Project Coordinator of the funding partner Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) joined Jonathan Reckford and the homeowner in cutting the ribbon.

The visitors witnessed the joy of tears in the eyes of homeowner Abdul Bari and his wife Samsun Nahar as Jonathan Reckford took time in listening the couple their memories of the dread night when SIDR stroked. They described the trembling story how they fled home with their 15 days old new born grand daughter amidst the destruction of SIDR.

Samsun Hahar elaborated, “The wind was very strong. Our house was destroyed and we went next door with the baby. Soon the water level started to rise and we decided to evacuate. It was raining heavily; there was water everywhere. We thought it was the end. I tied the baby on my shoulder and we all swam together to the nearest building.”

In response Jonathan Reckford said, “I express my sorrow to hear you. I want to congratulate you in your new home. We are glad to have the opportunity to serve you. We pray that your family may live happily and prosper in future and may you live as the good citizens of this community.”

During the visit Jonathan Reckford visited the production site, the mobile HRC, the residence of CAM volunteers and also the HRC guest house. He was accompanied by Richard Hathaway, Area Vice President of HFH Asia Pacific; Kyle Scott, Regional Program Manager of HFH South Asia; Scott Peterson, Disaster Response Coordinator of HFH Asia Pacific and Kelly Koch, National Director of HFH Bangladesh.

Abul Bashar, Project Manager of Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project explained the construction process and the day to the activities of the project to the visiting guests. All the construction materials are prefabricated and later being transported to the construction sites by boat and then being carried by the volunteers and the homeowners to the building site.

A brief overview of the project was presented by Project Manager Abul Bashar at the mobile HRC. He mentioned that though monsoon started 20 shelters are still being constructed every week and a total of 136 core shelters have been erected so far. He expressed optimism that the project will be completed within due time.

While briefing the visitors Arnold Eby, Bangladesh based Project Coordinator of CAM said every two weeks over fifteen volunteers are flying to Bangladesh to put up the shelters. He said, “Donations are coming in from 5 to 100 to 200 Dollars from individuals. We have a partnership with Air Emirates. A fixed price will be offered all time for fare till the project will be going on.”

Arnold shared how they evaluate the beneficiaries that they are eligible to get the shelters. He said, “The volunteers are doing very good here. We can still find people living in their makeshift shelters. We look for real people who deserve to have a free shelter.”

In response Johatahan Reckford thanked all the volunteers and Habitat staff. He said, “I want to thank all of you, the CAM volunteers and our staff. The impact; the lives that you are changing, it sends a signal to the grater community that it’s not the end.”
After a day long tour the team came back to Dhaka with a filling of fulfillment and enthusiasm of helping more people in the area especially with a sanitation project that is currently being negotiated with Unicef Bangladesh.

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