You have probably heard the news about Cyclone Sidr which devastated Bangladesh’s southern coastal regions, claimed thousands of lives, and displaced millions. It is likely that you have read the news in the newspaper or blogs and seen graphic images on TV or heard the horrid report on the radio. But your understanding of the destruction of the cyclone and the resilience of the people of Bangladesh will be incomplete if you have not read the first-hand accounts from local bloggers.
Kazi Rafiqul Islam tells his experience from the capital Dhaka:
“Due to strong wind electricity was cut off at about 10:15 pm (Thursday). Then I went to bed but could not sleep as the roaring of the wind was increasing. …. At 2:00 am I got a phone call from my eldest sister who was in her sister’s house at Barisal city. She informed that they were in great danger. The roof of the house (tin shed house) was flown away by the cyclone and somehow they were saved. …..I phoned my youngest sister in village. She informed me that she is safe but many trees were broken and fallen down by the Cyclone…. At about 2:30am I heard a big sound outside. I looked outside and saw that the Eucalyptus tree had fallen down on a tin shed house and people are shouting.
Since there was no electricity I could not turn on the TV or Radio all day long (Friday). We could not contact cyclone affected people as we could not get the mobile charged. …. So we were detached from the world. At night Dhaka city became ghost city. We did not have electricity, no water; we could not take bathe also many people could not cook as they did not have water.”
Similar experiences and reactions were posted by other Nari Jibon participants:
Sofia Khatun [bn]: “Millions of Bangladeshis are helpless. Please lend your hand.”
Zannat Ara Amzad Liva [bn]: “Questions arise in my mind why this wrath of nature was steamrolled on innocent children, and extremely poor people?”
Irin Sultana [bn] “The cyclone-affected people are still affected by needs of drinking water, food, cloth and medicine. This cyclone has made many people penniless.”
Laily Jahan Meghla [bn] “the news that depressed me a lot that a girl child was born on 15th of November morning in Shariatpur and was killed in the storm later that night.”
Taslima Akhter “We passed that night fearfully. I and my family became sick as we had to wet in rain”
Nari Jibon’s executive director Dr. Kathryn Ward tells about the inspiring resilience of the Nari Jibon staff and students. The staff and students of Nari Jibon project had turned out to the office on Saturday for work and classes despite a complete lack of electricity and internet. She also posted regular updates on the situation and relief efforts.
MG Rabbany Sujan depicts with photos how the slum dwellers in capital Dhaka are coping with the damages that the category 3 cyclone brought them. Sujan had posted more updated reports and pictures which even got highlighted on CNN. Rafiq was also interviewed in CNN despite a poor telephone connection.
Sujan also posts photos and news about the local communities’ relief efforts.
Last Friday the Nari Jibon project arranged a training on video and digital photography for the female blogers. Participant Shirin Sultana says:
I enjoyed this training very much and also very happy to join this program. I think of buying a digital camera so that I can take lots of pictures from Bangladesh and I would like to show how beautiful is our Bangladesh.
Here is a video posted by the Nari Jibon staff last July portraying flooding in the low-level areas of Dhaka, the capital city. Soon we will see more photos and videos from the participants that attended the recent workshops.