MCC Photo/Vernon ReimerMCC's work in Bangladesh began in the midst of turmoil. After a devastating cyclone in 1970, MCC started relief work in what was then East Pakistan, providing assistance through the upheavals that led to Bangladesh's independence in December 1971. During the peak of the civil war in 1971, MCC left East Pakistan but continued to assist refugees who, like these in this 1971 photo, fled from East Pakistan to India. MCC Photo/John WielerIn 1972, refugees returning to their homes near Birisiri, Bangladesh, received the gift of MCC blankets and canned chicken, thanks to a distribution by the Bangladesh Council of Churches. The supplies - a few bales and cartons at a time - were sent from Mymensingh over a rough road, on two ferries and over broken bridges to the Garo Baptist Center. Pictured are recipients and Hiten Areng (far right), general secretary of the Garo Baptist Union. MCC Photo/Maynard ShellyIn 1972 in Champaknagar, Bangladesh, MCC built wood-framed houses with bamboo siding and corrugated sheet-metal roofs. This was a typical dwelling style for Bengali villagers, but sturdy materials and extra reinforcement helped to make it secure in all but the most violent storms. Since the beginning of MCC's time in Bangladesh, annual storm damage has been a major factor keeping families in poverty. MCC Photo/Kathy HostetlerWhen MCC began working in Bangladesh in 1972, families relied on rice and could afford to eat little else. Nutritional surveys found that most households were deficient in vitamins and protein. MCC worked to introduce new, nutritious and sustainable crops. In 1973, MCC shipped 32 tons of seed to Bangladesh which were divided into small bags, with a goal that villagers would plant gardens and improve their diets. MCC Photo/Kathy HostetlerTo encourage families already experiencing hunger to experiment with new foods, MCC set up demonstration gardens in villages, at schools and MCC offices. Workers organized trainings and held meetings such as this one in 1973 to help women understand the importance of a balanced diet and winter gardens. MCC worker Ramona Moore of Prudenville, Mich., gives her first lecture to about 70 Bangladeshi women. Duane Moore of Muncie, Ind., holds poster and Mark Blosser of Bristol, Ind., translates. MCC Photo/Burton BullerPotatoes were another food that MCC encouraged farmers to plant. This 1973 photo shows harvesters in the Noakhali district of Bangladesh examining the quality of the crop. In cooperation with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, MCC imported seed potatoes and helped Bangladeshi farmers learn how to grow them. MCC Photo/Burton BullerOpportunity for families in Bangladesh expanded to include a MCC job creation program that supported initiatives to create and sell handicrafts. In this 1974 photo, women are developing products from jute fiber which can be twisted into a tough coarse yarn and woven into items such as doilies, belts, hats, and rugs. Today MCC continues to support job creation activities in Bangladesh, and many enterprises are now financially independent and sell to international fair trade organizations. MCC Photo/Gerhard NeufeldBy 1975, vegetables that MCC introduced, including cabbage, were becoming more common in Bangladesh's Noakhali district. Sirajuddowla, a longtime MCC worker who uses one name only, displays cabbage grown during the dry season. MCC encouraged farmers to grow vegetables, wheat and sorghum in the dry season when farmers can't grow rice. MCC Photo/Stephane LenthalMCC also worked to develop solar dryers to help farmers preserve their harvest. MCC worker Stuart Clark of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, painted the mud-wall dryer shown in this 1979 photo with a mixture of flour, powdered charcoal and water. It sits on and is covered with plastic. A bamboo tray holds the food. Holes in the mud base allow cold drier air to enter; a hole at the plastic's top allows warm air to escape. Pointed toward the south, the dryer operates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. MCC Photo/Charmayne BrubakerA major focus was appropriate technology, and MCC workers strove together to experiment in designing or adapting simple, inexpensive technologies that farmers could easily afford and use. In this 1979 photo in Feni, Bangladesh, MCC workers Ali Mia (left) of Feni, Bangladesh, and George Klassen of Carman, Man., experiment with a mechanical suction chamber attached to a cast-iron pump, one of many experiments that eventually led to the creation of the rower pump. MCC Photo/Tim MeyerThe rower pump brought new opportunity to thousands of families in Bangladesh and eventually in other locations. After a 1985 cyclone filled ponds with salt water, MCC installed several pumps to filter the water through a sand layer to purify it. Rower pumps also gave farmers a way to irrigate half an acre of rice or as much as two to three acres of vegetables. The rowing action was easy to operate and the cost was low enough that farmers could afford it. MCC Photo/Russell WebsterSoybeans, another crop that MCC introduced, are now commonly sown throughout coastal areas – a visible reminder of MCC's legacy in Bangladesh. This 1982 photo taken in a soybean field shows MCC workers (from left) Russ Toevs of Whitewater, Kan.; Derek D'Silva of Sonapur, Bang.; Abdul Mannan and Khabirul Islam Khokon of Noakhali district, Bang.; Paul Shires of Arroyo Grande, Calif.; and Lee Brockmueller of Freeman, S.D. Read more in the spring issue of A Common Place magazine. See images from the history of MCC’s work in Bangladesh, from relief efforts to partnering alongside farmers to introduce new crops.