Jhum Para Project
There is a third project supported by the Bangladesh Fund, the Jhum Para Project. Back in the 1960’s there was a shift in the management of leprosy world wide, and all patients except those needing specialist hospital care were to be discharged from Leprosy Homes into the community. Inevitably, as in our case, there were some who were unable to live independently because of disability, or who had nowhere to go, because of ostracism. For them we obtained a plot of land where we built simple bamboo houses for them to live in.
We left Bangladesh soon after that and we lost touch. Although we began to visit Chandraghona again with medical teams from 1985 onwards we were unable to visit the village because of the civil war. It was only after the peace deal was signed in 1997 that June, during one of our team visits, was taken to the village and found the people there, some of them the original patients, with their children and grandchildren, all living by begging, and in abject poverty.
June was appalled and felt a compulsion from God to do something. We began to make plans and the following year a team from this church conducted a careful survey to see how we could help best. So the Jhum Para Project was born.
The urgent needs were for food, (instead of milk, or eggs, or fish, or meat, they ate snails and frogs), for drinking water,
for house repairs, and most importantly, for education for the children, none of whom were at school. As an income generation scheme the initial idea of purchasing piglets for them to raise for meat or to sell was an attractive idea when raising funds at home!
Over the years the provision of school uniforms
and equipment, tutors for coaching, mosquito nets, blankets, latrines, sewing machines, and adult literacy classes, have brought about an astonishing transformation.
More recently textile training for the girls and driving instruction for the young men, have brought some hope of employment, and the appointment of a pastor has resulted in many conversions and baptisms. The most recent facility has been a brick-built schoolhouse to serve the whole community.