Super-cyclone Amphan—the Bay of Bengal’s fiercest storm this century—struck India first on the evening of May 20, trampling everything in its path before reaching the coast of southern Bangladesh. Power supplies were cut, homes were destroyed and more than 80 people lost their lives.
Fortunately, thousands were saved by a simple walk-through by local Compassion child development centre staff. In one community, before the cyclone struck, they went from door to door to verbally warn families in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program and ensure they were evacuating. Every resident in the community was able to find safety at the government-built cyclone shelters.
19-year-old Ripon managed to take the family’s prized cattle to safety. When the family returned home, they found their house battered by fallen trees and branches, but still standing. 12-year-old Liya’s family were not as lucky. After a night at the shelter with her parents, they discovered their home had been flattened by the winds. Akash’s family also lost possessions in the cyclone. His mother had carefully saved money to buy the 12-year-old a school bag, but it was destroyed.
The devastating storm is an additional challenge for families already living through the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. “My Sangeeta is only 10 years old. I couldn’t think straight rationalising between the safety of my family and losing my life’s savings for making my home,” says her father Aviram, almost breaking into tears.
With the storm over, it sets the scene for the real challenge: the aftermath of cleaning, rebuilding and returning to daily life.