Seek aid for Bangladesh cyclone victims

Bangladeshi community leaders and politicians are begging Queens residents to give thanks this holiday season by giving to the South Asian country, which was recently ravaged by a cyclone.
On Thursday, November 15, Cyclone Sidr struck the southwestern section of Bangladesh, and as of Tuesday, November 20, the death toll had been estimated between 3,000 and 10,000.
In addition, millions of people are believed to have been displaced by the twister, which recorded wind speeds of 150 mph in rural areas and 90 mph in parts of the capital city Dhaka.
“Of course this is a disaster for our whole country and for us who live here,” said Jamaica Estates resident Dilafroz “Nargis” Ahmed, President of the Bangladeshi Society of New York. “We feel very bad that we are here and not there to help.”
Money in particular is needed to fund relief efforts, local leaders said, explaining that supplies are often difficult and expensive to ship. Rescue organizations are currently struggling to provide food, emergency shelter, health care and clean water with the funds. However, aid organizations expect that the country will also need help restoring its infrastructure, including a clean water supply, sanitation facilities and permanent housing.
Cyclone Sidr hit just three months after severe monsoons killed nearly 1,000 people in Bangladesh.
State Senator John Sabini, who represents Woodside where a large population of Bangalis live, has been trying to get the word out to Queens residents and help coordinate local efforts.
“I think there is a desire to reach out and help people,” Sabini said of the response he had received as of Monday, November 19, “Many of our Bangalis here are very prosperous and have obligations back home.”
Both the immediate and long-term local efforts will be discussed at a Bangladeshi gathering, scheduled to take place on Friday, November 23 at 7 p.m. in the Dhaka Club, located at 59-15 37th Avenue in Woodside, Ahmed said.
Although there is no cost to attend, donations will be accepted at the door.
“Even a dollar would be appreciated,” Ahmed said.
Sabini said that donors can also give directly to the American Red Cross International Response Fund by calling 1-800 REDCROSS, visiting www.redcross.org or mailing to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Those who give money are advised to specify the funds for AP 2017 Bangladesh Relief & Development.
To give directly to the Bangladeshi government, Queens residents can give to the “Chief Advisor’s Relief and Welfare Fund” through the Bangladesh Consulate in New York. For details, visit the Consulate’s website at www.bdcgny.org.

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