News Release

Mormon Helping Hands give Relief to Weary Victims of Cyclone

~~“~~Sister Chetti, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints missionary serving in Vishakhaptnam, India, described the severe cyclone that hit the area on Oct 12, 2014.  “We had been warned by our district president that the storm was coming and told to stay inside, so we had our apartment prepared.  We put bricks in front of the door to stop any water and we moved our clothing and food to the top bunk.”  Sis Chetti and Sis D’Souza, along with their companions were prepared and no members of the church in the area were harmed. However, a month later, others needed more help and the members wanted to give it.
Sis. Chetti gathered with other missionaries and members from the Vishakaptnam 1st, 2nd, 3rd congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, along with the Gajuwaka congregation, to give service to people who were still suffering from the effects of the Hudhud cyclone.  On Friday, Nov 14, 2014, hard working hands filled 1500 bags with flour, sugar and hygiene items.  The volunteers worked late into the night loading trucks to be taken to villages close to the Bay of Bengal, where the devastation was severe.

Saturday morning, the relief truck and the bus loaded with 20+ volunteers, mostly young adults, arrived at the village of Vankayapalyam.  The area had been hit hard and many had lost their homes and were living in huts made from palm leaves.  Volunteers donned the familiar yellow Helping Hands vests and began to distribute the food. 
The relief effort was lead by S.V. Sunil, from Bangalore and the LDS church, along with Gladwin Bol, from ADRA, the charity arm of the 7th Day Adventist church.  ADRA had determined what villages had the greatest need and the LDS church responded with food and volunteers.  “It is a privilege to do this” said Gladwin Bol.  ADRA has teamed with the LDS church in several projects. Ten villages had been identified and over the next nine days, the remaining villages would be given food. 210 families received aid in Vankayapalyam.
“I lost the roof to my home”, said Ramamna, a mother who lived with her 7 year old daughter on the edge of the village. She tried to find shelter but because of the wind, rain and sand, she was unable to see. “I couldn’t stand for fear I would be blown away.  I thought I would die.”   She gestured to the scene before her, filled with broken coconut trees and sand, and said she sold coconuts from 40 trees but the trees were no longer standing.  But “because of the grace of God” she said “we made it through”.
As soon as the relief truck arrived, women and children quickly gathered around anxious to be given the food.  They waited patiently until their names were called. They picked up their food by either signing their name or stamping their thumb print by their name.  Volunteers carried the 25kg of rice and the bags home for them and listened to their stories and tried to help wherever they could.
 Although they did not have much, some women offered coconut water or sugar water to the volunteers in gratitude.  One said “No person came to help us this way, but you came like a God to us”. 
Lead by Kishore, a counselor in the local church leadership, the members of the congregations talked of their feelings after they left the village. Each felt humbled and happy by the opportunity to participate.  Sunil summed up the shared feelings by saying “There is no greater work than taking care of God’s children.  We are all brothers and sisters.”



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