October 2017

They have been called the “most persecuted people group,” and today, many who are watching their plight would not argue that claim.

Driven by brutal violence into the neighboring country of Bangladesh, some members of this Muslim-minority people group from Myanmar are having their first contact with the compassion and love that is foundational to our faith, through the work of a local Christian hospital.

News reports state that more than 400,000 men, women, and children—most having endured massive physical and emotional trauma—are desperately fleeing Myanmar and being targeted by their predominately Buddhist government as they pour across the border into Bangladesh. Many of these refugees need medical care to treat illnesses and injuries as severe as landmine and bullet wounds.

Rohingya Muslim refugees who had just arrived wait for a place to stay at Bangladesh's Balukhali refugee camp on October 2, 2017. The UN says more than 14,100 children are at risk of dying from malnutrition in wretched camps where half a million mainly Rohingya refugees depend entirely on charities for survival. Food distribution in the vastly overcrowded settlements is still ad hoc and uncoordinated, the UN says, more than a month after refugees began pouring into southern Bangladesh to escape ethnic bloodshed in Myanmar.
(Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

While other humanitarian organizations are supplying aid to refugees, only our partner NGO, Memorial Christian Hospital, is equipped to provide critical surgical care for these victims of physical trauma.

Just 70 miles from the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, a team of medical workers and nationals who staff Memorial Christian Hospital have been working 80-hour weeks all month, performing life-saving surgeries, repairing limbs, and treating malnutrition. A recent BBC video documented how the refugee crisis has overwhelmed the hospital—and U.N. estimates predict the number of Rohingya leaving Myanmar could balloon to one million by the year’s end.

Yet amidst tragedy, God is using this crisis to bring this people group to those who can minister to both their physical and spiritual needs.

 “When we first became aware of this people group, we asked how God might use us to help them,” commented one worker. “With the conflict growing, some of these people have come to us.”

Entire families of workers, including children, are pitching in at the hospital, distributing meals and care packages to waiting patients. But the nearly-crippling patient influx is not without its difficulties.

“We Are Fighting This War Too”

The ward at MCH is currently full. More than 80% of referrals must be turned away.

The current hospital staff only has the capacity to treat a handful of surgical trauma patients a day, in addition to their other patients. More than 80 percent of the referrals must be turned away due to lack of bed capacity and staff, despite of the unimaginable need tugging at the hearts of the small team. There is a desperate need for more nurses and skilled-caregivers to care for more patients.

“My body is aching and my heart is crying,” remarked one of the surgeons, writing at around 3 a.m. after operating on a teenage boy who stepped on a landmine. “We are fighting this war too. In a few hours—assuming I don't get called again—I pick up my scalpel to continue my fight.”

“It is far from being over,” shared a team member from our partner NGO.

They also shared the story of one Rohingya mother who was searching for a second son at another medical facility after her 16-year-old lost both his legs to a landmine explosion and passed away—illustrating the enormous need for not only qualified surgeons but also post-traumatic care.

Divine Timing 

ABWE has an established hospital relief fund, which can help patient’s with their rehabilitation and cover the costs for skilled volunteers who come to assist the heavily taxed team. Providentially, this crisis comes on the heels of a major initiative to renew and expand Memorial Christian Hospital, which was already seeing up to 200 patients each day in its outpatient and emergency departments.

 “It’s not our job to heal all of Bangladesh. We know that. But sometimes we wish we could help a little bit more than we can,” a team member continued. “And someday, when the new hospital is done, hopefully we will be able to.”

But now more than ever, with an additional 300,000 Rohingya expected to flood into Bangladesh in the next three months and with no end to the crisis in sight, the greatest need is for experienced OR and surgical ward nurses—not just space. In addition, this hospital is in desperate need of Family Practitioners and an Obstetrician/Gynecologist.

Pray that God would provide the staff needed to support the work of our partner hospital, that God would bring healing and hope to those affected by the refugee crisis, and that God would open doors and grant stamina and peace to the team serving in Bangladesh.

To support efforts at Memorial Christian Hospital in Bangladesh to care for the Rohingya and other patients in need, please consider making a contribution to our relief fund.

If God is burdening you to pray, give, or go, explore our work in South Asia or start the conversation.

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