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As we enter into our second week of lockdown, our new normal, I pray you are safe and well.

While there are many new challenges to our daily routines due to COVID-19, I am very grateful that much of cbm’s work overseas is medical. Thankfully we are still able to continue serving those living in poverty with disabilities, but as I hear more from our cbm partners in the field, there is an urgent need for resources to help protect those who may otherwise be at risk from COVID-19.

I’m writing to you today with some good news about our fundraising efforts from last September to help Rohingya refugees living with disabilities. Thanks to generous people like you, we have now raised over $150,000 in private donations, and therefore are now eligible to receive the full dollar for dollar match from the New Zealand Government of $150,000!!

That means we are able to send just over $300,000 to help the most vulnerable of the Rohingya refugees – those who have disabilities.

This is an incredible amount and it’s all thanks to generous people like you. You are bringing hope to those living in despair, and with disabilities in these challenging and disadvantaged refugee camps.

Your support is funding rehabilitation services to restore mobility and dignity, support medical services that save lives, including a nurse and GP and help fund an ambulance for emergencies where lives are at stake.

Back in September last year, I wrote to you about Saleha, who had stepped on a landmine and lost both her legs from the knee down.

Saleha had run for her life from the marauding squads in Myanmar that were burning houses – with people in them! – and shooting families as they fled. She had left everything. She did not know what lay ahead, but she knew she would be killed if she did not get across the border into Bangladesh.

The border was close, just across a field… but that field was littered with land mines. She was almost safe, just a few steps away, and then her legs were torn apart as a landmine exploded under her foot.

Surely, this was the end for Saleha. But no. Safe across the border, some of her fellow Rohingya refugees heard the explosion. They ran back, risking death and grave injury to themselves and carried her gently across the border, placed her in a rickshaw and rushed her to help.

This was a daring rescue and it’s thanks to people like you that she received vital medical care and rehabilitation and today she is a new person.

On a recent trip to the refugee camps in Bangladesh, one of my cbm staff members Imran, actually managed to find Saleha which is challenging in a refugee camp where the inhabitants move around a lot. Imran spent a few hours with her, talking to her and watching her stand and even take a few steps. He managed to take a video of her and you can view it here. 

I look forward to sharing more updates from Cox’s Bazar on how your generosity is helping refugees living with disabilities, but this will depend on the effect of COVID-19 in these camps.

Right now, refugees are a heightened risk due to COVID-19. Refugees live in tiny, crowded shelters. They often share toilets. In their densely populated camps, healthcare and clean water is scarce, sanitation is poor, illnesses are rife and social distancing is almost impossible. All this makes the spread of the virus so much more likely. The town of Cox’s Baazar already has cases of COVID-19.

Refugees have less access to essential services due to barriers such as language and legal status. And refugees with disabilities have less access than all. cbm ensures they are not left unprotected.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19 in these refugee camps will you prayerfully consider an urgent gift to help ensures refugees are not left unprotected during this pandemic?

Please send your urgent gift today to help protect vulnerable refugees from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

Without your help many may die in these densely populated refugee

Thank you for your generosity and for your support at a time when there is so much uncertainty.

I pray for the Rohingya refugees, that God will multiply the impact of your generosity to help transform the lives of those living with disabilities, and protect them from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

With heartfelt thanks,

Murray Sheard
CEO, cbm New Zealand

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