The good news first: it wasn’t a major a fire. It didn’t rage on for hours.
This one, fortunately, was quickly contained. The folks rallied – using fire extinguishers and buckets of water – and they raced to set up a portable pump to open a hydrant. Thank goodness we had a strong rain a few hours earlier.
But every slum fire, even one that is contained within minutes, can destroy several structures and leave dozens of our brothers and sisters homeless.
It happened about a week ago in the 70 Rai community, just a few blocks from our Mercy Centre. Seven homes were severely damaged; four homes were completely destroyed. In total, 51 adults and children were left homeless.
Our community teams began helping the victims before the smoke cleared. We worked through the evening and next days to ensure that those left homeless had a place to stay, rice to eat, clothes to wear, uniforms, books, and school supplies for the school children, and a plan to rebuild as quickly as possible.
In building and repairing over 10,000 burned-down slum homes in the past 40 years, we understand the real cost to the victims is psychological. They may have had next to nothing, comparatively, in material terms before the fire struck, but the loss of everything they own – every family picture and every memento – and the loss of a secure roof above them is utterly devastating.
Their psychological suffering is far greater than their material loss.
The faster we can help the victims get back to their regular daily lives (within a day or two if possible) – with the ladies selling their food in the local fresh market and the children with new uniforms, books, backpacks, pens and pencils back in their school classrooms – the less severe will be their emotional scars.
Thus, from the first moment we can make a difference, we provide hot meals and emergency services. And in the following hours, we work with the victims, the community leaders, and local housing authorities to organize the clearing of tons of debris and begin putting down stakes to rebuild homes and repair lives.
Our emergency reserve funds are low, and so we write to you to ask for your support. Those wishing to help us to help our neighbors get back on their feet with a roof over their heads can contact me. I will pass on your information and scope of your support to our community teams.
Thank you, respectfully, and prayers,
Photo below: our teams work together with fire victims at Mercy Centre.