The Indian government is now allowing Western relief agencies into southwestern India, the region devastated by a September 30 earthquake.

For two weeks after the devastating temblor, army units worked to establish control and prepare the way for national and international relief workers. The quake, measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, killed at least 9,000 and left 150,000 homeless in the state of Maharashtra. Southern Baptists, Mennonites, Methodists, Catholics, and many more Christian groups have added their material and spiritual comfort to the assistance provided by the Indian government and citizens and by other international relief groups.

Ray Eicher, North American representative for Operation Mobilization India, says at least food is not in short supply. “The problem is with the distribution and communication, because the roads are quite small and quite primitive in the [isolated] villages.”

The Evangelical Fellowship of India-Commission of Relief (EFICOR), the partner agency of the National Association of Evangelicals’ World Relief organization, is working in some of the worst-hit villages. Linda Keys, spokesperson for World Relief, says EFICOR is “providing medical assistance, trauma counseling, food, cooking utensils, fertilizers, and other relief items.”

Seattle-based World Concern is resettling 25 children who lost all immediate and extended family in the quake. A team from its Bombay office is searching for distant relatives of the children.

EFICOR is concentrating its efforts in villages that have not received as much media attention as Killari and Latur, two villages heavily damaged by the quake. “Everyone descends on the towns,” Eicher says, “but we really need to get back into the isolated villages.”

By John ...

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