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Tearfund using course to equip local communities for when natural disasters strike

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This Lent, Tearfund is drawing attention to how they're continuing to helping people in Bangladesh after it was hit by deadly a super cyclone last year.

The Christian charity has created a course called Transforming Communities which locals in natural disaster prone areas can take to equip them in disaster management and resistance.

Prabu Deepan from Tearfund told Premier the course shows the importance of empowering communities.

“Most often they are the quickest to respond and they’re there.  In most of the hard to reach communities, local churches are there already active, and they can respond in a meaningful way and in a way that is relevant to the needs of the people in that sense,” he said.

“We've seen they are able to see the immediate needs, they are able to use the local resources they have, they're able to take care of the immediate needs of the local communities.

“It takes a lot more time for larger organisations to access these parts, because some of them are really remote or critical road networks are damaged, and we might not have access to these places as well”.

In May 2023, a super cyclone devastated parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. For a woman named Komola Sarker, it damaged a crucial road and many homes in her community.

After taking the Transforming Communities course, she’s learned how seriously her neighbourhood was at risk of floods during heavy rains and decided that her church needed to take the first steps to support their community.

With her Bible study group, she started planning ways to help solve problems and look after their neighbours. They’ve helped with funeral arrangements for people in the community and advising on disaster management.

Deepan said: “Through this Bible study group, she's not only been able to mobilise other people, but also to transform her life, and also become an advocate for issues that can further exacerbate existing issues and put people even more at risk when there's a crisis, like a natural disaster.

“She's been involved in working with the local government, making sure that she advocates for other people in her local communities who otherwise would not be visible.”

This year, Tearfund has dedicated its Lent appeal to the Transforming Communities course.

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