1st February 2018
Samaritan’s Purse is helping to provide critically needed medical care for desperate refugees.
Franklin Graham met Wednesday, Jan. 31, with Rohingya refugees to hear their heartbreaking stories and share with them the hope of Jesus Christ.
“He sees your suffering. We pray that He will intervene for you…. We care for you. We love you. We want to be able to tell the world what is happening here.”
– Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham
“God loves you,” Graham told a crowd on Wednesday morning when he visited the vast Kutupalong camp in southern Bangladesh. People gathered, and one after another they told tales of how their family members had been killed, their land seized, and their homes and villages burned as they fled from waves of attacks that began last August in neighbouring Myanmar.
Now, more than 650,000 Rohingya live in the barren hills of Kutupalong, where bamboo houses are stacked on steep hillsides, and dirty latrines stand next to wells. The conditions are appalling, but they told us they have no choice but to stay here. They fear they will be killed if they return to Myanmar, where they have no rights. Essentially, these are people without a country.
Standing on a sandy hilltop, Graham looked out across endless waves of makeshift houses that stretched to the horizon. “This used to be a national forest, with elephants and wild animals,” he said. “Now there’s hardly a bush left,” because it has all been stripped for firewood and building materials. He expressed grave concern about what might happen to the camp in the rainy season, which begins in April. Then the Rohingya will face dangers ranging from landslides to cholera.
“These are Muslims,” Graham said. “This is an opportunity for us as Christians to let the light of Jesus Christ shine before them.”
Graham also saw the diphtheria treatment center in the camp that was built by Samaritan’s Purse. It is staffed by doctors and nurses we have sent from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Before arriving none of them had ever seen a case of diphtheria, which has been eradicated in much of the world. But the Rohingya have not been vaccinated for diphtheria, and there have been over 4,600 cases reported in the camps. More than 500 of those patients have been treated by Samaritan’s Purse.
Later in the day, Graham led a team from our Operation Christmas Child project to hand out gifts to 1,200 Rohingya children living in a smaller camp called Chakmarkul. In the same place where their parents line up to receive food and other assistance, the children lined up to receive backpacks that contained soccer balls for boys, dolls for girls, as well as T-shirts, toothbrushes, and sweets.
Graham said that Samaritan’s Purse hoped to send Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to the Rohingya children, but were unable to do for logistical reasons. Instead, our church partners in Bangladesh were able to assemble the gift bags locally. Thousands more will be handed out in the days to come. “We feel like it’s important to do something for these kids who have lost everything,” Graham said.
Franklin Graham included a visit to two busy wards at Memorial Christian Hospital that were recently built and staffed by Samaritan’s Purse to care for Rohingya who need advanced surgical care. Such treatment is not available anywhere else in southeastern Bangladesh. He also pledged funds to help complete a new state-of-the-art hospital facility that is already under construction. The new hospital will have eight operating rooms and the only CT scanner in an area that is home to 17 million people.