How a tragedy in Bangladesh united a town...

PUBLISHED: 13:45 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:26 11 June 2010

THE generosity of Honiton residents will help an international charity start the second phase of relief work in cyclone-hit Bangladesh. More than £1,300 was raised for Muslim Aid, a humanitarian organisation, following the fundraising efforts of the Rahma

THE generosity of Honiton residents will help an international charity start the second phase of relief work in cyclone-hit Bangladesh.More than £1,300 was raised for Muslim Aid, a humanitarian organisation, following the fundraising efforts of the Rahman family, of the award-winning Taste of Bengal restaurant and take-away in High Street.Support from customers and the Rotary Club of Honiton boosted personal and business donations given by the Rahmans.Cash will go towards the cost of building 1,000 new homes for the destitute and displaced.The final instalment of the overall donation was presented to Mr Walayat Khokhar, Muslim Aid's community liaison officer in Britain, last weekend.He travelled from London to accept the gift and to personally thank businessman Mafizur Rahman, his family and the people of Honiton for their contributions towards the massive relief effort.Muslim Aid was on the spot, with an office and staff in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to deliver immediate humanitarian assistance when the cyclone hit.Mr Khokhar was keen to reassure local residents that every penny they gave will help alleviate suffering."Muslim Aid is an international charity, operating from the heart of London since 1985," he said."Our sole purpose is to alleviate the suffering and hardship of the poor and the needy right across the globe."Our projects are going on in 60 countries and the object of the organisation is to help victims of natural disasters and calamities - earthquakes, cyclones, civil war and famine."A range of development work is normally carried out after a first phase of delivering immediate relief, such as food, shelter and medicines."At the moment, Muslim Aid is "focussing totally" on the plight of those affected by the serious disaster in Bangladesh.The tremendous loss of human life, suffered when the cyclone hit at 150 miles per hour, has struck all those involved with Muslim Aid's work."We are on the spot," said Mr Khokhar. "We know the country, the topography and the language."Our staff were first to reach the site and deal with the calamity. "It was a disaster of high magnitude."Muslim Aid's chief executive, Saif Ahmed, has just returned to Britain after spending two weeks in the disaster zone. He has sent two senior managers from head office in London to monitor relief work and to ensure that immediate assistance is provided, as required."The second phase of the operation will be working in particular areas for the rehabilitation and resettlement of those poor, under privileged and destitute people," said Mr Khokhar. "We will provide affordable homes, basic healthcare and skill training."Mr Khokhar presented Mr Rahman with a certificate of appreciation for his fundraising efforts.The total raised kept going up during Mr Khokhar's visit. Even Mr Rahman's baby grandson and daughter-in-law added to the total!Staff, teachers and pupils at Honiton Primary School were thanked for their efforts, prompted by Mr Rahman's 10-year-old son who attends the school.The boy was described as an example to all. He distributed leaflets, outlining the relief effort in Bangladesh, to commuters during a train journey from Woking to Honiton on Saturday.Mr Rahman, who was born in Bangladesh, had a special reason for supporting the relief effort.He has fond memories of being taught by a private tutor, who is now dead. When the cyclone hit, Mr Rahman not only made enquires about his own family but of his former teacher's, too."His family lost three people, their house and everything," he told the Herald."I want to thank everybody who has given money towards the relief effort - and the Midweek Herald for publicising the appeal."Mrs Rahman and her daughter-in-law laid on a special feast for Mr Khokhar at their Honiton home, serving delicacies from Bangladesh including highly prized, imported vegetables and beef and fish dishes.CONTRIBUTE to the relief effort by logging on to www.muslimaid.org or by calling 020 7377 4200.THE Rotary Club of Honiton has raised thousands of pounds to help provide temporary shelter for those who lost their homes in the cyclone.Members raised enough for a further Shelterbox following a collection outside Tesco last December.

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