Peter Howard from Food for the Hungry’s Emergency Response Unit reports from Pakistan:
Today, I am in an air conditioned hotel guest house in Islamabad, Pakistan, trying to wrap my mind around contrasts. I just returned from the field in southern Pakistan (the Punjab province) where FH is responding to the basic and urgent needs of people displaced by the floods. This morning I woke up refreshed from sleeping in an air-conditioned room, had a nice shower, enjoyed a breakfast of eggs and toast, some coffee and a cool glass of clean water – oh…and I have clean clothes on.
Two days ago I was with a team of local Pakistani staff from our partner ILAP and our friends from Engineering Ministries Int’l as we facilitated hygiene and water supply training in a village surrounded by nothing but rubble and flood contaminated wells and latrines. These families (and there were women, children, old and young) were not showered, did not even have a room to sleep in, let alone AC, their clothes were dirty and worn and their stomachs on the verge of empty. Our protection from the 114 degree heat was a tree where as many people as the shade could handle were crammed together for a training and some clean water.
I couldn’t believe the dedication of the families to learning about clean water…but then again when your health and life depend on it – and when it means a refreshing glass of water which won’t give you diarrhea, I guess one is motivated to put up with almost any heat and inconvenience.
And so now the contrast reflection -
As relief responders our conditions were rough – we also were without AC…but at least I had a mat to sleep on up on a roof away from the bugs that thrive near stagnant flood waters…and I had enough food and clean water to keep me hydrated (up to 5 liters a day and even that didn’t seem like enough in the heat!). Oh and I had more than one change of clothes since one is constantly drenched in sweat and the accumulating dust which turns to a sort of mud cake on your skin. So as I lay on my cot at night on that relatively cool roof I tried to comprehend how those flood displaced families, young and old, cope day in and day out – week upon week with lack of shelter, shortage of food and little if any clean water, and lots of dirt. I can’t comprehend it…but I can tell you it motivated me to see our supply chain of shelter kits, hygiene and kitchen kits, water supplies get up and running so that we can get some relief to these people. The next challenge is how to keep remembering that though we are working to supply 44,000 people with relief…that each one of these beneficiaries is a person, with a story, with hopes, fears and dreams. “Lord, may we in some way be a conduit to their hopes and dreams!”