Issued by Gift of the Givers on
24 August 2010
PAKISTAN RELIEF: DAY 2
Greetings of Peace
How much worse can it get? This is a question that should not be asked. You presume you have seen everything and nothing more can happen, but the drama just unfolds further, the only difference and a significant one at that, is that this is for REAL; real people with real emotions. Anguish, hunger, thirst, hopelessness and helplessness, this is the predicament of 20 million people Pakistanis, virtually equivalent to 40% of South Africa’s population.
It’s day 2. The youthful team of volunteers including four medical and one physiotherapy student are all hyped up; another opportunity to serve countrymen; indeed the spirit of volunteerism is permeating the youth of Pakistani society, a new found consciousness to serve with distinction. Our target, the historical Moghul city of Thatta with the world’s largest necropolis, is home to several thousand refugees and is closer north, more than 2 hours from Karachi.
The perfect plan is executed but Divine Intervention is not factored in. First the feeding truck leaves late, then the fan belt breaks and then the radiator packs up. As the advance team waits at a filling station word reaches us that only 10 hours earlier, 5 new villages were totally submerged by raging flood waters, a freak event no one was expecting in an area of relative calm. The plan was modified; a new truck was hired on the road at 9pm and direction was changed. Our focus, the area of Hafsabad, a further 2 hours from our original intended destination. We drove to the edge of the river and now found navy and private boats in water which actually was a thriving residential area hours previously. The population was moved to higher ground. Fortunately we found a substantial number of them on the side of the road with NOTHING and we mean nothing. It was not the absence of shelter that was moving but the intense hunger and thirst; men, women and children screaming “chavel” (rice), “pani” (water) repeating these words continuously, desperation in their eyes, anguish on their faces.
We do the best we can to feed and provide water, but it breaks your heart when you are told “1000 people went to sleep hungry tonight”. Our mission over, we arrived in Karachi at 5:15am rushing to catch the 7am flight to Islamabad.
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman
Chairman and Founder
It is not what we give, But what we share, For the gift without the giver Is bare.
James Russell Lowell