“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity”
As the flood waters swept through Pakistan engulfing villages in their wake, Thatta was the last major district to be hit. Around 200,000 people fled their houses, some fleeing to higher ground close by, others to relatives in nearby towns and most to relief camps that had been set up.
With its proximity to Karachi and Hyderabad, international aid agencies, NGOs and humanitarian groups poured in to Thatta. As the numbers of IDPs swelled, relief efforts also went into overdrive. Engro Foundation enlisted the help of HANDS, an NGO with whom flood relief efforts are already taking place in Southern Punjab and Upper Sindh. 838 tents were set up and 1600 hygiene kits distributed in sponsored camps.
Omar Mazhar took a day trip with the likes of Aman ul Haque, Ifitkhar Raaz, Naveed Alamand Asim Akhund: This is what he had to say:
Arriving in the morning, we ventured to the tent city set up by HANDS and talked with the flood affected families and tried to gauge their sentiments and their feelings. There was some despair, but most of the victims seemed to be in good spirits. They were in a safe clean environment, getting daily rations and some had roofs over their heads while others were still waiting.
After a while, we decided to go to Sajjawal and have a first hand experience of the flood. As we drove, we passed many tent cities set up by different organisations, both political and relief based. Tens of thousands of tents. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people. And then there was the water. We drove into Sajjawal and found the city almost deserted. A ghost town.
We returned to the camp to set up the tents. The ground was most rocky and driving the pins that held the tents up into the ground was near impossible. We used rocks and the blunt side of an axe, but nothing really helped. After we set up the first tent, we felt it was simpler to find big heavy rocks to hold the tent up as opposed to spending time and energy driving in the pins. The rocks were on the other side of the camp so a large group of us picked up rocks and carried them to where we were setting up.
By 3:30pm, working while fasting and working in the hot sun, i was almost ready to pass out and the group felt that we could do no more. We got back into our cars and drove back to the safety our city, of our homes.
The entire experience was amazing and satisfying for me personally. To help these people, to do what little i could was fantastic. It really makes you understand and realize how blessed you truly are to have what you have. These people have nothing and are getting by. We must do what we can to help them and rehabilitate them.
The flood waters have receded but the devastation that was caused by it is only just becoming apparent. Rescue and relief are important parts of relief efforts but without rehabilitation to rebuild lives, the job is only half done. Envison council members tried to come up with a way to help those who can’t help themselves. A tent school was set up in Makli graveyard between Dawood group and Engro Foundation sponsored tents.
Aimen Waqar, Sanam Kubraand Omar Mazhar accompanied Shafaq Omar to Thatta on one of the weekly visits to help HANDS run the tent school, Aimen writes:
We took art supplies with us and played football with the kids . Overall it was a good trip, The children mostly speak in Sindhi and attend lectures in the camp 7 days a week. The HANDS people wanted volunteers to come on a weekly basis so that apart from the daily lessons the kids could get some sort of recreation to distract them from flood related issues. All those who want to help out, this is a great opportunity. I think the smiles of the kids made the trip worth all the effort.
Many of the employees have sent mails to Envison council members on contributing other than just through monetary means, This is one of the ways to do so. Please contact Yawar Herekar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0302-8296803 if you would like to take part in the Thatta tent school.
“To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.”