Cyclones and lack of income push families to the brink.

Cyclones and lack of income push families to the brink.

Nargis and her children are struggling to survive.

Nargis, a loving mother, desperately wants her family to break free from poverty. But most days, it’s hard to hold on to hope.

In disaster-prone Sarankhola, where she lives in southern Bangladesh, recurring cyclones and storms have obliterated crops and fishing stock, pushing families even deeper into poverty.

“In 2007, we lost everything in Cyclone Sidr,” says Nargis. “Then came several more cyclones. We became victims of the storms. They damaged our house and other assets. We became poor and we haven’t been able to recover.”

Nargis lives with her husband and three children on the bank of a river by the world’s largest mangrove forest – the Sundarbans.

Like many families in the community, they rely on fishing for food and income, but traditional fishing methods and a reduction in stocks means most families are struggling to survive.

“My husband goes fishing on contract for seven to eight days at a time,” she says. “Sometimes, he returns almost empty-handed. Then it becomes difficult to feed the children.”

The family lives in a flimsy house made of tree branches, bamboo and thatch. It has been battered by frequent storms and is starting to collapse.

“I feel bad when my children get wet during the rainy season. Rainwater falls through the straw roof. Along with it come the gusts of wind and the splash of rain through the broken fence. We sit in a corner and wait for rain to stop. During cyclones, we take shelter in our nearest cyclone centre, leaving everything we own behind.”

It’s impossible to fix the house when Nargis and her husband are struggling to put food on the table.

“This year we went through even more hardships. The price of food and essentials has increased a lot. We can’t cope. Several times, we’ve had no food at home. We can’t even borrow food from neighbours. No one has extra rice to lend. I save the small amount of food we have for my children, so they can eat once a day. Recently, 10 days passed like this. The children became very skinny. I’ve cried a lot.”

With their situation becoming so desperate, there’s talk in the community about arranging a marriage for Nargis’ eldest daughter Mim, who is only 13.

“If my children were born in a good family, they wouldn’t have to suffer like this. Here, they lack food, clothes, even struggle to sleep. They are not safe in the cyclones and storms,” says Nargis.

Many families in Sarankhola are facing similar desperation. Nargis dreams of finding a way to earn an income, so she can create a different future for her children.

“I wish I could buy a sewing machine. I would sew clothes. My daughter also wants to learn sewing. We could earn money by sewing clothes, too. With the money, we could build a stronger house, sew new clothes for the children, and sometimes buy meat and cook, and feed the children well,” she says.

Right now, your generosity is reaching families like Nargis’ in Sarankhola. Your generosity will help train the community on climate-smart farming and support families to find more ways to earn stable income. With your love and care, Nargis will be able to feed her children, provide for their needs, and keep them safe from storms and child marriage. They’ll be able to stay in school and reach for their dreams.

Thank you for helping children and families in Sarankhola build brighter futures.