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After earthquake, Indian minister sees widespread suffering


Minister takes relief to Kashmir and sees ‘chaos everywhere’ as U.S. ministries organize shipments for Himalayan region of India-Pakistan border.

By Erik Tryggestad
The Christian Chronicle

November 1, 2005

Minister Paul Renganathan saw “chaos everywhere”on a relief trip to Kashmir, after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit onOct. 8 the disputed territory that borders India and Pakistan.
FewIndian evangelists would have traveled into Kashmir in years past. Buton Oct. 11 Paul Renganathan and a team of relief workers drove throughit and up to the border of Pakistan, a nation that once stood on thebrink of war with India over the disputed region.
Renganathan, aminister based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, accompaniedTariq Abdulla Malik, Abdul Rashid, Manzoor Ahamad and Ali Mohamad intotowns destroyed by the Oct. 8 earthquake to distribute a truckload ofsupplies. Several ministries in the United States also are arrangingfor relief shipments.
The earthquake’s epicenterwas close to Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan-controlled region of Kashmirbut caused devastation for hundreds of miles throughout the Himalayanregion of Pakistan and India. The quake killed an estimated 79,000people.
“What I have seen is chaoseverywhere — injured, hungry, sick, homeless people,” Renganathan said.“Exposure to cold weather killed many children. Many (who were)seriously injured still are waiting for medical attention.”
Theteam visited towns and villages in the Indian-controlled regions ofKashmir, including Uri, Jabala, Salamabad, Nowgam and Tangdhar. Almostevery home in each location was destroyed, as well as schools andhospitals. Most of the survivors were sitting along the roads, in therain and snow, waiting for relief. Many were weeping, said Renganathan,who estimated that as many as 4 million people in the region needassistance.
Healing Hands International, based in Nashville,Tenn., was waiting for a report from its assessment team, said RobertoSantiago, the ministry’s international development coordinator.
JohnKachelman, minister for the Judsonia, Ark., church, also is assessingneeds and planning to send shipments of relief supplies from churchmembers to the affected region using his contacts at the U.S. StateDepartment.
In the Philippines, church member Chito Cusi saidthat MARCH for Christ, plans to send a team to the affected area. Themedical ministry has sent several teams to areas affected by the Dec.26 tsunami
“We are ready. Our experience in Sri Lanka and Indonesia … give us a big advantage,” Cusi said.
“We can be among the first to hit ground zero with the love of Christ.”
Theregion’s mountainous terrain and bad weather have slowed aid thus far,according to news agencies, but meeting the emotional needs of thevictims will take even longer. Indian church members outside theaffected zone said that the quake nonetheless had shaken their sense ofsecurity, especially after the Dec. 26 tsunami.
G. DavidIllankumaran, minister for the Maduma Nagar church in southeasternIndia, said that it seems that “north India and south India are underattack by nature, What will happen in next minute, we do not know.”
But the earthquake also has united the people of Kashmir after years of hostility, Renganathan said.
“Indiaand Pakistan were preparing for war some time ago,” Renganathan said.“Now God has given something else for these people to do for a goodwhile.
“And (that’s what) they are doing now — helping each other.”

Filed under: International

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