While I was fretting over wet feet, much more serious consequences resulted from the heavy rains only a few days ago.
As I later learned, the flooding was not quite in step with the normal rhythm of the monsoon season in Bangladesh. While Dhaka, the capital city, only experienced flooded roadways and a brief shut down in the workday due to the abnormally heavy monsoon rains, Chittagong, Bangladesh’s commercial capital, suffered a much heavier toll.
According to a report today*, over 120 people have been found dead, buried by the mudslides that were some 6 to 8 feet deep in several areas. Workers, for lack of excavation equipment, are making slow progress and the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as more casualties are unearthed. One relief worker reportedly stated, “never before in my life I confronted such a calamity.”**
After only a few weeks, I have found that I have quickly acclimated to life in Dhaka. The things that were cast in a harsh light when I first arrived have all too quickly become part of my normal days; the pollution and poverty, the garbage piles and children hunting for recyclable materials, and the mangy stray dogs have become a seemingly inevitable part of my daily commute.
While I haven’t become complacent or stopped working towards a more just end, this news has hit close enough to home to make me realize that I need to look more closely at the impermanence around me. As of yet, I have yet to meet with beneficiaries of BERDO’s work. To be honest, I look forward with a sense of both hope and apprehension to hearing their stories that will thrust me out of my current state.
* United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), June 14, 2007, “UN supports Bangladesh landslide response.”
**Reuters, June 12, 2007, “Landslides, floods kill dozens in Bangladesh.”
Posted By Caitlin Burnett
Posted Jun 15th, 2007