On August 19th 2012, a team of six King’s University students led by Roy Berkenbosch left Edmonton for a long flight to Bangladesh to participate in a experiential learning on transformational development that is happening in this predominantly Muslim country. For the two weeks we spent in Bangladesh, we were guests of The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee(CRWRC) now renamed World Renew. CRWRC has been working in Bangladesh since the early 70s after the war of liberation in 1971 that led to the secession of East Pakistan which became the independent state of Bangladesh. CRWRC’s mandate is “to meet the needs of the poor, work for justice and educate its constituency to a fuller understanding of development issues.” In Bangladesh, CRWRC started by participating in “rehabilitation activities including relief and agricultural assistance which was carried out in cooperation with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)”
Today, although CRWRC Bangladesh/India still offers some relief support mainly in times of immediate need such as during natural disasters, it mainly focuses on strengthening partnerships with national development organizations that in turn are well equipped to identify the potential of the poor and to build their capacity to transform their lives. CRWRC offers consultation, training and other resources to partner organizations and in this way, achieves its mandate of transforming communities through the partners who mainly work directly with the poor. The staff of CRWRC and partner organizations received us with open arms and hearts and a sacrificial commitment to make our experience a memorable and indeed a rewarding one. In the two weeks of our stay in Bangladesh, we were granted the opportunity to witness how CRWRC through development initiatives answer God’s call to model the compassion of Jesus towards those around him; as well as answering prophet Micah’s call to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly before the Lord (Micah 6:8).
CRWRC focuses on transforming communities by actively applying holistic principles to development. Its main partners include Pari Development Trust (PARI), Sustainable Association for taking Human Development Initiatives (SATHI), Garo Baptist Convention Primary Health Care Project (GBC PHCP), Prottasha (meaning ‘hope’), and Scheme for Under-Privileged People to Organize Themselves (Supoth). A description of each of this organization’s work is available on this link-http://www.crwrc.org/pages/crwrc_asia_bangladesh.cfm. In the upcoming posts, I’ll offer my observations, impressions, and reflections on the work in Bangladesh and how this experience has impacted me.