Bangladesh Adventures

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Haiti Update and Prayer needs

Here is a summary of recent activity from our disaster response in Haiti.
• On Friday Sept. 24th, a tornado-like storm hit Port-Au-Prince. 85 Compassion beneficiaries were affected, 83 had their tents destroyed and two lost the roof of their home. PF's and project workers are making sure that those affected have food, water and temporary shelter.
• Repair on the second Compassion office building is nearing an end.
• Expatriate staff have been hired to help with completing the strategies. Hilda Bojórquez, an engineer from El Salvador, will coordinate the rebuilding of the ICP's.
• 320 children have been seen through a mobile clinic in Miragoane (HA-789) and medical equipment (scales, stethoscopes, and thermometers) was distributed to 35 projects. This strategy is now complete.
• 339 families received temporary and transitional shelter materials during the month of September.
• Containers were delivered to HA-314, 727 and 800 for use as temporary meeting space.
• 44 church partners were selected to benefit from repairing and rebuilding works.
• 155 people (project staff members, children and parents) from 9 projects (HA-751, 355, 805, 748, 778, 717, 204, 319, 726) have benefited from group therapy and individual debriefing with the psychologists.

Prayer requests from Haiti:
1. Pray for the country as they approach presidential and general elections in November
2. Pray for the protection of the Haitian population during the rainy season.
3. Pray for the leadership team of the Compassion Haiti office as they need wisdom to make appropriate decisions for the success of the ministry.
4. Pray for an effective role for Compassion to play in the rebuilding of the nation.
5. Pray for the Disaster Response Team in implementing the strategies to respond to the earthquake.
6. Pray for the protection of people in tent cities in a hot sun (afternoon) and heavy rains (at night), a big challenge for school pupils, babies, pregnant women, injured people...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Haita updated June 10

Here is a summary of the latest of our disaster response.

• May is the wettest month of the year in Haiti with an average monthly rainfall of 9 inches. Over 4 inches of rain had already fallen in Port-au-Prince by the middle of May.
• On May 9, an area called Bozan in Leogane was flooded when the Rouyon river overflowed. The families of 9 Compassion-assisted children from HA-152 were affected, losing uniforms, school materials, utensils, beds and income-generating materials.
• Thankfully, no children were injured or killed in the flooding and Compassion has given the affected families food, water and temporary shelter.
• Mobile clinics of 5 local medical teams visited all affected projects where they have treated more than 11,000 patients.
• Medical supplies sent after the earthquake were used to treat Compassion-assisted children, their families and people in the communities. Additional supplies have been distributed to 69 affected projects and 13 hospitals.
• All significantly affected projects received food supplies to serve children hot meals during the project activities.
• To date, 2,702 tarps have been distributed at 23 projects, with plans to distribute a total 6,000 tarps to the most severely affected families.
• Compassion-assisted children’s attendance at school is estimated at about 80 percent. More than 500 children moved to the countryside where there is a Compassion project and are attending school as well as project activities.
• Most of the schools allow children to go home at noon because of the extreme heat.

Please continue to keep the country of Haiti in your prayers. Prayer requests from Haiti:
1. Pray for our protection while working under a concrete slab roof.
2. Pray for self-control and peace of mind for our staff here and our children at school during aftershocks (our hope is that there are no more aftershocks.)
3. Pray that we can reach our full capacity (more productive) in a time where the impoverished children need us the most.
4. Pray for our effective role to play, as Compassion, in the rebuilding of the nation.
5. Pray for the protection of people in tent cities in a hot sun (afternoon) and heavy rains (at night), a big challenge for school pupils, babies, pregnant women, injured people...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Haiti Update May 2010

Also, here is a summary of the latest of our disaster response.
• The Haitian government has reopened schools and extended the school term by three months through August. About 800 of the city’s 5,000 schools have reopened.
• All of the affected ICP’s have resumed project activities, meeting under tarps or tin roofs. School attendance is at about 70% because many children have moved outside of Port-au-Prince.
• All 38 of the significantly affected projects are meeting three times a week and so far, 21 of them are serving hot meals to the children.
• To date, Compassion has distributed 30,037 food kits to all affected projects. 1,000 additional food kits are stored in the warehouse to give to children who are still missing.
• All families from the 38 significantly affected projects have received vouchers for shelter materials and so far, 1,882 tarps have been distributed to 13 projects.
• Mobile clinics conducted by 4 local medical teams are visiting all affected projects to provide health care to registered children, siblings and parents.
• Additionally, medical supplies were provided to 12 projects and 3 hospitals in the affected areas.
• Trauma counseling was conducted for Compassion staff by trained psychologists.

Please continue to keep the country of Haiti in your prayers. Prayer requests from Haiti:
1. Pray for our protection while working under a concrete slab roof.
2. Pray for self-control and peace of mind for our staff here and our children at school during aftershocks (our hope is that there are no more aftershocks.)
3. Pray that we can reach our full capacity (more productive) in a time where the impoverished children need us the most.
4. Pray for our effective role to play, as Compassion, in the rebuilding of the nation.
5. Pray for the protection of people in tent cities in a hot sun (afternoon) and heavy rains (at night), a big challenge for school pupils, babies, pregnant women, injured people...

Thursday, April 08, 2010


About 120 countries met Wednesday at the United Nations in New York to hear Haiti's request for around $4.0 billion in aid to help it recover from January's devastating earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people and left more than one million homeless. The blueprint presented by the Haitian government to achieve that goal was supported by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who opened the fundraising conference on Haiti.

"Our goal is not just to rebuild, it is to build back better," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, adding that the cost of rebuilding Haiti is estimated at $11.5 billion over the next decade.

Haitian President René Préval thanked the nations who have already contributed to relief efforts since the quake, and paid tribute to the actions of Haitians, both at home and abroad.

"Let us dream of a new Haiti whose fate lives in a new project", said Préval.

The U.S. government pledged $1.15 billion at the international conference on rebuilding earthquake-shattered Haiti, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warning that "what happens there has repercussions far beyond its borders."

At long last the conference seemed likely to meet that goal, with the European Union announcing a $1.6 billion commitment and Brazil pledging $172 million.

-Ongoing Food relief activity
Over the past two weeks, 7471 food kits have been distributed to ICPs as an ongoing food relief effort. As a result, 100% of significantly affected ICPs (a total of 38) have received food kits twice for their children and families, and their staffs; and all 100% of moderately affected ICPs (a total of 31) have received food kits once. The office is managing to serve the moderately affected ICPs a second food kit as well, to fully benefit the disaster families in need of immediate food relief.
Children from the quake-prone areas who migrated to the countryside are also taken into consideration regarding the food relief intervention. Note that such children, especially the ones who moved to areas where there are Compassion projects participate in ‘’club associate’’, a strategy that allows them to receive all Compassion benefits related to the sponsorship and the developmental activities linked with it. To date, a number of 1052 have been found in this situation.
Each food kit which contains ingredients like: 20 pounds of rice; 10 pounds of beans; half a gallon of cooking oil; 12 pounds of oatmeal; 12 pounds of pasta, and 64 ounces of peanut butter, can sustain a family of five for two weeks with one meal a day.
-Milk distribution and other items
In thirteen (13) CSPs, powdered milk was distributed to mothers/caregivers with children aged up to 24 months. Six (6) boxes of milk were given to each caregiver to nourish their infants in this time of daily sustenance issue.
Other items that include flashlights and batteries were also given to parents to use in the evening as most of the areas of Port-au-Prince fail to have electricity. Thus, 747 flashlights and 1494 batteries (at a ratio of 2 batteries per flashlight) were distributed.
- Tarp distribution and other building materials
Among the 38 ICPs (22 west and 16 rural) selected to benefit from temporary and transitional shelter activity, only three (3) have received a total of 391 tarps for children’s families, and twenty-three (23) could distribute vouchers to about 3119 parents to claim materials such as corrugated metal sheets (those in rural), wood frame and nails to start making their shelters. As more tarps are expected to come, more families will be benefiting until reaching out to the targeted number which is about 6,000 who desperately need to cope with rainy season.
- CSP Camp
After conducting successful multi-day camps for both CDSP children and LDP students aiming to help address the psychological, physical, nutritional and cognitive needs of our registered children, our office has been holding a two-day camp for CSP mother-child units. A group of six (6) CSPs located in rural areas held camp last week (March 25-26) and a group of seven (7) in urban areas are ending the activity today. 95% mother-child units have attended this activity.
Camp activities focus on four areas:
-Occupational therapy, including art and games for children, and games and competitions for caregivers
-Cognitive therapy for caregivers, including earthquake and natural disaster education
-Individual therapy for caregivers by psychologists
-Immunization for children and their caregivers against typhoid, meningitis, tetanus and hepatitis B
CSP projects were grouped by 2 or 3, depending on their geographical position to make the event look more enjoyable and uncommon. Caregivers could have fellowship by comforting one another through testimonies, having fun and eating together.

Prayer requests:

1. Pray for the reconstruction plan of Haiti to be a reality
2. Pray for all disaster families who are still struggling to return to their normal life
3. Pray for our strategic plans to be carried out effectively on the field
4. Pray for resilience, courage and vision for the leadership of the office, to accompany the impacted ICPs in meeting their needs and the needs of the children we exist for

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Haiti Update

Here is a summary of the latest of our disaster response.
• About 80 children from the three child development centers in Les Cayes that were affected by the flooding received money to replace belongings such as school materials and uniforms. Families also received food kits and water.
• The Compassion Haiti office has begun to address shelter needs for the families from the affected ICPs. Six thousand families will receive shelter materials.
• Families in urban areas will receive shelters made from waterproof tarps, wood frame and nails. Families in the countryside will receive shelters made from corrugated metal sheets, wood and nails.
• Project staff were trained on how to construct shelters. Each shelter is big enough to accommodate a family of more than five.
• The second phase of food distribution is occurring, serving both significantly and moderately affected projects.
• Apart from one LDP student still missing, all LDP students (90 total) are attending a four-day camp in Merbalais, two hours from Port-au-Prince. Camp activities include psychological and social interventions, immunization and recreation.

Haiti and Compassion

Haitian Children Need our Help! As a result of the Earthquake in Haiti children and their families are hurting. The tragic statistics: Compassion Children 49 were killed; 721 injured; 3,437 homes destroyed; 11,344 homes damaged; 227 siblings killed; and 203 parents killed.

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 25 countries.

Compassion's work in Haiti began in 1968. Currently, more than 62,900 children participate in more than 225 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Haitian children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

Please continue to keep the country of Haiti in your prayers. Prayer requests from Haiti:
1. Pray for the country as the population is struggling to return to their normal life
2. Pray for the south population (Les Cayes).
3. Pray for the three projects that are affected by the flooding.
4. Pray for all specific responses of Compassion to affected ICPs to be effective.
5. Pray for resilience, courage and vision for the leadership of the office, the staff and the ICPs to meet the needs of all affected children.

On an interesting note; Compassion Children in Bangladesh raise more than $3,000 to send to the children in Haiti. It started with a day of prayer at all Compassion Bangladesh’s projects with the children praying for Haiti and ended up with the poorest children in the world donating $3,000 to the other poorest children in the world. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bangladeshi cabbie in NY returns cash left in taxi

Mukul Asadujjaman: "I did the honest thing"

A Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City has gone out of his way to track down the person who left thousands of dollars in cash in the back of his cab.

Mukul Asadujjaman, a medical student, drove nearly 80km (50 miles) to an address he found with the money.

He left his phone number when he found no-one at home. The money belonged to an Italian grandmother visiting the US.

Mr Asadujjaman was offered a reward, but he turned it down saying that as a devout Muslim he could not accept it.

Felicia Lettieri, of Pompeii, Italy, and six relatives had taken two cabs on Christmas Eve, Newsday newspaper reported.

Mrs Lettieri, 72, left her handbag behind, with more than $21,000 of the group's travelling money, jewellery worth thousands more, and some of their passports.

Her sister, Francesca Lettieri, 79, of Long Island, said the honest driver had saved her family's vacation.

"We really love what he did," she said.

'Be honest'

A gracious Asadujjaman was quoted by the newspaper as saying that he may be broke, but he was also honest.

"My mother is my inspiration. She always said to be honest and work hard."

Mr Asadujjaman called a friend with a car and drove to a Long Island address he found in the handbag.

No-one was at home, so he left his phone number and a note, the report said.

His phone rang a short time later and he drove back to return the bag.

"They were so, so, so happy," Mr Asadujjaman told the paper.

Asked if he was tempted to keep the cash, Mr Asadujjaman said the money would have allowed him more time to study, "but my heart said this is not good".

He also turned down a reward, saying he could not accept it as a devout Muslim, Newsday reported.

"I'm needy, but I'm not greedy," he said. "It's better to be honest."

Mr Asadujjaman is not the first honest American-Bangladeshi cabbie to hit the headlines for noble behaviour.

In 2007, driver Osman Chowdhury returned a lost bag containing diamond rings worth $500,000 to the rightful owner.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Hole In Our Gospel

Rakai, Uganda, August 1998

His name was Richard, the same as mine. I sat inside his meager thatch hut, listening to his story, told through the tears of an orphan whose parents had died of AIDS. At thirteen, Richard was trying to raise his two younger brothers by himself in this small shack with no running water, electricity, or even beds to sleep in. There were no adults in their lives—no one to care for them, feed them, love them, or teach them how to become men. There was no one to hug them either, or to tuck them in at night. Other than his siblings, Richard was alone, as no child should be. I try to picture my own children abandoned in this kind of deprivation, fending for themselves without parents to protect them, and I cannot.

I didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t supposed to be there, so far out of my comfort zone—not in that place where orphaned children live by themselves in their agony. There, poverty, disease, and squalor had eyes and faces that stared back, and I had to see and smell and touch the pain of the poor. That particular district, Rakai, is believed to be ground zero for the Ugandan AIDS pandemic. There, the deadly virus has stalked its victims in the dark for decades. Sweat trickled down my face as I sat awkwardly with Richard and his brothers while a film crew captured every tear—mine and theirs.

I much preferred living in my bubble, the one that, until that moment, had safely contained my life, family, and career. It kept difficult things like this out, insulating me from anything too raw or upsetting. When such things intruded, as they rarely did, a channel could be changed, a newspaper page turned, or a check written to keep the poor at a safe distance. But not in Rakai. There, “such things” had faces and names—even my name, Richard.

Not sixty days earlier I had been CEO of Lenox, America’s finest tableware company, producing and selling luxury goods to those who could afford them.
I lived with my wife and five children in a ten-bedroom house on five acres just outside of Philadelphia. I drove a Jaguar to work every day, and my business travel took me to places such as Paris, Tokyo, London, and Florence. I flew first-class and stayed in the best hotels. I was respected in my community, attended a venerable suburban church, and sat on the board of my kids’ Christian school. I was one of the good guys—you might say a “poster child” for the successful Christian life. I had never heard of Rakai, the place where my bubble would burst. But in just sixty days, God turned my life inside out, and it would never be the same.

Quite unexpectedly, eight months earlier, I had been contacted by World Vision, the Christian relief and development organization, during their search for a new president. Why me? It wasn’t something I had sought after.

In fact, you might say I had been minding my own business when the phone rang that day. But it was a phone call that had been twenty-four years in the planning. You see, in 1974, at the age of twenty-three, in my graduate school dormitory, I knelt down beside my bed and dedicated my life to Christ. This was no small decision for me, and it came only after months of reading, studying, conversations with friends, and the important witness of Reneé, the woman who would later become my wife. While at the time I knew very little about the implications of that decision, I knew this: nothing would ever be quite the same again, because I had made a promise to follow Christ—no matter what.

Several months after becoming a Christian, I was newly engaged to Reneé. As we were planning our wedding and our life together, she suggested that we go to a department store to register for our china, crystal, and silver. My self-righteous response was an indication of just how my newfound faith was integrating into my life: “As long as there are children starving in the world, we’re not going to own fine china, crystal, and silver.” Perhaps you can see God’s sense of irony in my becoming president of America’s premier fine tableware company a couple of decades later. So when I answered that phone call from World Vision in January 1998, I knew that God was on the other end of the line. It was His voice I heard, not the recruiter’s:

“Rich, do you remember that idealistic young man in 1974 who was so passionate about starving children that he would not even fill out a wedding registry? Take a good look at yourself now. Do you see what you’ve become?
But, Rich, if you still care about those children, I have a job I want you to do.”

In my prayers over the weeks leading up to my appointment as World Vision’s president, I begged God to send someone else to do it, much as Moses had done. Surely this was a mistake. I was no Mother Teresa. I remember praying that God would send me anywhere else, “but, please, God, not to the poor—not into the pain and alienation of poverty and disease, not there.” I didn’t want to go there.

Yet here I was, the new president of World Vision, sent by knowing staff to get a “baptism by fire” for my new calling, with a film crew to document every moment.

Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, once prayed, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” But who really wants his heart broken? Is this something to ask of God? Don’t we pray that God will not break our hearts? But as I look at the life of Jesus, I see that He was, as Isaiah described him, “a Man of sorrows . . . acquainted with grief”
(53:3 NKJV). Jesus’ heart was continually moved to compassion as He encountered the lame, the sick, the widow, and the orphan. I try to picture God’s broken heart as He looks today upon the broken world for which He died. Surely Richard’s story breaks His heart.

Two crude piles of stones just outside the door mark the graves of Richard’s parents. It disturbs me that he must walk past them every day. He and his brothers must have watched first their father and then their mother die slow and horrible deaths. I wondered if the boys were the ones who fed them and bathed them in their last days. Whatever the case, Richard, a child himself, is now the head of household.

Child-headed household, words never meant to be strung together. I tried to wrap my mind around this new phrase, one that describes not only Richard’s plight but that of tens of thousands, even millions more. I’m told that there are sixty thousand orphans just in Rakai, twelve million orphans due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. How can this be true? Awkwardly I asked Richard what he hopes to be when he grows up, a ridiculous question to ask a child who has lost his childhood. “A doctor,” he said, “so I can help people who have the disease.”

“Do you have a Bible?” I asked. He ran to the other room and returned with his treasured book with gold-gilt pages. “Can you read it?”

“I love to read the book of John, because it says that Jesus loves the children.”

This overwhelmed me, and my tears started to flow. Forgive me, Lord, forgive me. I didn’t know. But I did know. I knew about poverty and suffering in the world. I was aware that children die daily from starvation and lack of clean water. I also knew about AIDS and the orphans it leaves behind, but I kept these things outside of my insulating bubble and looked the other way.

Yet this was to be the moment that would ever after define me. Rakai was what God wanted me to see. My sadness that day was replaced by repentance.
Despite what the Bible had told me so clearly, I had turned a blind eye to the poor. Now my heart was filled with anger, first at myself, and then toward the world. Why wasn’t Richard’s story being told? The media overflowed with celebrity dramas, stock market updates, and Bill Clinton’s impending impeachment hearings. But where were the headlines and magazine covers about Africa? Twelve million orphans, and no one noticed? But what sickened me most was this question: where was the Church? Indeed, where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these “orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion? Shouldn’t they be flaming today? Shouldn’t churches be reaching out to care for children in such desperate need? How could the great tragedy of these orphans get drowned out by choruses of praise music in hundreds of thousands of churches across our country? Sitting in a hut in Rakai, I remember thinking, How have we missed it so tragically, when even rock stars and Hollywood actors seem to understand?

Ten years later I know. Something fundamental has been missing in our understanding of the gospel.

The word gospel literally means “good news.” Jesus declared that He had come to “preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). But what good news, what gospel, did the Church have for Richard and his brothers in Rakai? What “good news” have God’s people brought to the world’s three billion poor? What “gospel” have millions of Africa’s AIDS orphans seen? What gospel have most of us embraced in the twenty-first century?

The answer is found in the title of this book: a gospel with a hole in it.

Prologue to Richard Stearns’ recent book “The Hole In Our Gospel”

2009. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, Tennessee