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25 May 2020

A Difficult Eid

A message from Friendship founder and executive director, Runa Khan

This has been one of the most difficult Eids that our people have seen in decades. The whole world, even developed countries, have faced the struggle between containing another outbreak of infection and crippling their economies. But in Bangladesh, not only do we have these two threats, but another, equally formidable terror: climatic disasters.

The super cyclone Amphan swept into West Bengal and Bangladesh from the Bay of Bengal less than a week before the annual Eid festival, ravaging homes and livelihoods. In Bangladesh, some 2.4 million people were evacuated. Due to the number of people in shelters, social distancing was mostly impossible.

For the coastal communities, the decision to abandon their homes, and oftentimes their livestock, assets and livelihoods and go to a shelter is a very difficult one. I have seen devastating storms where men would send their families to shelters, and stay back to secure their homes. They risk their lives in 3-metre tidal surges and 140 km/hour gales rather than lose the security of their few assets. And yet, this time 2.4 million people have been forced to evacuate.

Eid packages being prepared at the Friendship head office in Dhaka

During the absence from their homes, shrimp farms will have been ravaged, their crops and arable lands destroyed by seawater, trees and homes uprooted, animals killed. The Bangladesh government's early monetary estimate of the damage is about US$129 million; most of it being borne by the poorest and most vulnerable families.

Meanwhile, all over the country, COVID-19 continues to escalate. The number of infections has been doubling every 5 days in Bangladesh, thanks to the impossibly cramped conditions that many people live in, and myriad other difficulties in practicing social distancing.

But even in all of this, it is important for people to be able to celebrate. Friendship has distributed emergency aid to 3,000 families during the Eid holiday; but with a difference. Thanks to the support from our sponsors, this time our bags contain more than the essentials. Each bag will contain a sari and a lungi (traditional Bangali clothing) and ingredients for a traditional Eid delicacy.  They will also contain 4 types of seeds for planting vegetables, giving them supplementary food and income sources to help them recover while they stay at home. There is no better Eid gift than to see the pain of overwhelming burdens ease into a smile.

I am so proud to see in the news the spirit of community rising in our country. Groups of people have come forward to distribute food and emergency supplies to underprivileged families in their own cities and neighbourhoods, and even provide funeral services for those who have died of COVID-19. In all these instances, in people of our country who are taking these initiatives, I can't help but find hope for the future.

These are trying times. If everyone takes on an extra responsibility, and finds ways to help those around us. it will make a difference to those few lives, and surely will also make our Eid better.

Eid Mubarak! Stay safe.

Friendship's Response to Cyclone Amphan
  • 306,742 people in Friendship's working areas in the coastal zone,  took refuge at cyclone shelters administered in partnership between local NGOs and the government.
  • 2,000 masks were distributed to staff and volunteers involved in the cyclone response.
  • Friendship water treatment plants reserved 13,200 litres of drinking water for displaced people.
  • Hand-washing and disinfecting facilities were installed at Friendship cyclone shelters as well as 5 government shelters so that everyone could disinfect themselves before entering.
  • Friendship Health formed 6 medical emergency teams to serve those injured during the cyclone.
  • The government put Friendship in charge of disseminating cyclone warning throughout 165 communities.
  • 32 community level workers of Friendship were assigned to ferry people to shelters.
  • At Friendship's cyclone shelter at Kalapara, a special cattle shelter was arranged in addition to the existing one, and subsequently stocked with feed.
  • 4 portable power stations and 40 community solar technicians provided cellphone charging facilities for evacuees.
  • 3 Friendship field offices had call centres installed during the emergency response situation.
  • Friendship has distributed 2,700 packages with emergency food supplies as well as Eid gifts to those most heavily impacted by disasters, including 1,200 to coastal areas ravaged by Amphan.

Please help now


* Tax benefits arising from donations to Friendship are subject to national tax laws.


Ka-14/2A, Baridhara North Road (Kalachandpur), Dhaka

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