Posts Tagged ‘2010 flood’

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.

Pete (wearing cap) with community members at the water training

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 Walking Through the Devastationand 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!”

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Pakistan Flood Banner

Pakistan  Flood Relief

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You can copy and paste the HTML in the text boxes below directly into your webpage or blog link this banner back to Food for the Hungry, and thank you for helping us respond to the floods in Pakistan.

<a href=”http://www.fh.org/learn/news/disaster/pakistan-flood-relief?promocode=WA17ED0H5&#8243; target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.fh.org/images/stories/ways_to_learn/image/banners/pakistan_150x240b.jpg&#8221; border=”0″ alt=”Pakistan  Flood Relief” title=”Pakistan Flood Relief” width=”150″ height=”240″></a>

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FH is responding in Pakistan in collaboration with a local partner, Interfaith League Against Poverty, as well as Colorado Springs-based Engineering Ministries International. Below is an update written on September 9 by Scott Powell, PE, EMI’s Director of Disaster Response.

We just returned from a long drive out to one of the more remote and unreached communities in this disaster. After an irrigation canal sidewall failed, this community of more than 200 Muslim, Christian, and Hindu families was inundated with water over 30km from the Indus River. Most lost everything but their lives. They are set up on dry land, some 1,000 meters or so from their swamped village. “How long will it take for the waters to recede?” I asked. Six months, they estimated.

In a very encouraging meeting with village leaders and lookers-on, we took some time to listen to their true needs. Shelter and water were tops, followed by useful items and food stores that were lost in the flooding. In response to the clean water needs, we distributed some water filters we brought with us, and taught a few select individuals how to use and care for them. A small fleet’s worth of trucks loaded with shelter, hygiene, and kitchen kits will launch from Islamabad sometime next week to our location. By setting up a few simple water purification systems in the affected villages, EMI is laying a foundation of relationship in these communities to allow FH’s distribution of greatly-needed items to proceed without incident.

Thank you for your prayers that the flood waters would recede and that God would meet all the physical and spiritual needs of the people of Pakistan.

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Flying over Tragedy

Communications Officer from Bangladesh,  David Burton reports from Pakistan:

Flying across Southern Pakistan is extraordinary. Tired after preparing for this journey, I sleep on the plane from Bangladesh to Karachi, definitely the last time there will be daytime rest for at least a month. When I awake, I look dopily out of the window, and we are nearly at our destination. The awareness rises that I am looking at my first disaster area, and as I wake my eyes struggle to make sense of what I see below me. I see flooded land – this area is currently the most inundated, being close to the coast, getting the floods which have already devastated areas further north as they move downstream. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon described these floods as ‘a tsunami in slow motion’, and he was right.

But the devastation is hard to take in; hard even to distinguish. In between patches of green and occasional settlements, the same brown colour stretches to the horizon, and at 35,000 feet that’s a long way. I keep trying to spot which is water, and which is mud. Everything is ruined; you cannot see where flooding stops and living begins. Which means that the quality of that ‘life’ is shockingly low.

The tragedy is that things will get worse before they get better for the people of Sindh province, here on the coast and the Indus delta. Further inland, FH’s partnership with the Interfaith League Against Poverty is working in Punjab province, with those who have already experienced this level of flooding. They are now coping with the devastating aftermath – outbreaks of deadly diarrhea and cholera, destroyed homes (around half a million) and ruined lives (up to 8.2 million people affected).

Many lack shelter, most are in need of basic cooking resources like pots and pans, all lack a clean water supply. Their homes – not just the houses but everything inside which allowed people to order their lives – have been swept away. They cannot make home, or begin to feed themselves, or ensure their water supply. This devastation is social as well as physical, and it is vast.

Which is why the only thing I can definitely pick out as I approach Karachi are occasional geometric lines of tents; relief camps which will help those in need but which can only hope to bandage the enormous wounds Pakistan has suffered in the last month.

In time, relief will turn to recovery, and FH is here to help the people of Pakistan reassert themselves, restore their families and rebuild their lives. But we aren’t there yet; there is a long road ahead, and it will be difficult. Sitting in my seat, preparing to land in another new country, I cannot know how difficult it will be.

I know my ignorance will not last long. We land at Karachi, to take off an hour later. In and out, and off to Islamabad, to start work in Punjab. As I leave, I can only pray that there will be resources to help the millions still needing to be reached.

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Emergency Response Unit staffer Leena Samuel reports from Pakistan:

I spent the past 2 days in Punjab province and saw entire communities submerged in 5-7ft of water and the displaced families living along the floodbanks or on the streets with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs. I talked to one woman who said she had less than an hour before her house was submerged and she escaped with only her children. Many of the camps that have been set up only provide basic services of shelter (tents) and some food – two government camps we visited did not have latrines or bathing facilities.

I met with some 30 women and they talked about how they only went to the bathroom at night when they could go to the fields and the men would not see. The homes of millions of people have been destroyed, they are left with nothing, more than 90% of the crops in affected communities have been destroyed, threatening not only food security but livelihoods, etc.

Food for the Hungry is responding in Pakistan. Donate here.

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