Bagerhat: Khulna diocese in southwest Bangladesh is continuing to help provide new housing for victims of two cyclones and a fast-encroaching river.
The Church’s social arm Caritas, Shelabunia parish and local Jesuits have so far built homes for 1,020 families around Mongla, Bangladesh’s second largest port.
Many homes were destroyed when cyclones Sidr and Aila ripped through the area in 2007 and 2009. Constant erosion caused by the Poshur River is also causing havoc.
“When the river washed away our house the first time, we built a new one further from the bank. But it didn’t last long as the river struck again claiming that one too,” said Kakoli Mondol.
She is one of thousands benefiting from Church housing but still worries about the river.
“Because of the salt water and humidity, houses don’t last long and the river still threatens us. This house has cracks already,” she said.
“We’re trying our best to help people return to a normal life,” said Father Martin Mondol, parish priest of St. Paul’s Church in Shelabunia. “Besides the housing work, the Church is also promoting family, social and religious development through various projects.”
The Church also helps people here become more self-reliant by forming small credit societies for them, said assistant parish priest Jesuit Father Ignatius Pankaj Pereira.
Father Pereira, who is a trained ecologist, says he also conducts seminars on climate change issues with Caritas’ support.
Atul Mondol, who now has a new roof over his head thanks to Church efforts, has his own solution to the river erosion crisis.
“Without building a dam, this serious problem can’t be solved totally,” said the 55-year-old Catholic.