Tajikistan: Fire in Dushanbe Children’s Home Kills 13

Tajikistan: Fire in Dushanbe Children’s Home Kills 13

Klaus Rösler - January 19, 2006

D u s h a n b e (EBPS) – A fire in a home for handicapped children in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, took the lives of 13 children, two more were seriously injured. Alexander Vervai, local pastor and chairperson of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches of Tajikistan, reports that 79 children survived. The blaze occurred on January 7th at night, but has only now become known. The surviving children were temporarily given shelter in a city hospital.

Vervai reports that Baptists have been working closely with the city-run home for 15 years. Twenty-two of the most seriously-handicapped children have been receiving round-the-clock care from church members. Dushanbe’s largely-Muslim population consequently calls this ward the “Christian department”. Many are amazed that the flames spared precisely this ward even though it is adjacent to the totally-destroyed main building. In worship services Baptists have prayed for victims and staff and initiated a campaign for donations. But Vervai calls not only for prayer for the suffering, he also expresses hope that this tragedy might bring the city’s residents to “search for the true God”. “German Baptist Aid” is supporting the congregation’s project for the reintegration of released convicts.

Approximately 95% of Tajikistan’s 7 million residents are Muslims. Fourteen congregations with a total of 350 members belong to the country’s Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist churches of Tajikistan.