By Louise & Phil Proctor, Dumfries BC and BMS World Mission
We are mission workers serving in Bangladesh with BMS World Mission. We took the very difficult decision to return to Scotland in March just as the UK went into lockdown and as Bangladesh was heading in the same direction. We have left friends and colleagues behind along with a huge part of our hearts. We will return as soon as it is sensible for us to do so.
Covid-19 has had a devastating effect in Bangladesh. Many people lost employment when everything closed down, which has led to widespread poverty and hunger. Social distancing and regular hand washing are not an option for millions of people. Medical facilities are not great and realistically only available to the rich. Sadly, many people have been turned away if they have shown any Covid symptoms, because of fears from the medical staff of contracting it. There has become a stigma attached to the virus, so people aren’t admitting to having symptoms for fear of rejection from family, friends and villagers. It is very difficult to know the full extent of the virus, as testing is low, and many people are dying untested.
However, these figures are still rising daily. It is in a family’s interest to bury relatives quickly, they are frightened the body may be removed and a proper burial not allowed. Sadly, to add to these already challenging circumstances, Cyclone Amphan hit India and the south of Bangladesh in May, displacing over 2 million people, destroying 220,000 homes, with estimated damage repairs thought to be in the region of £100 million within Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country that suffers many natural disasters, they are able to prepare for these, saving many lives, but suffering a lot of loss- a pandemic is another thing entirely.
Lockdown has now been lifted to enable people to return to work, in order to earn money to feed themselves and their families. Hunger is a greater fear than Covid-19. The effects of this could potentially be devastating. Please pray for the people of Bangladesh as they suffer beyond the understanding of many.