Friday, 27 August 2010

from the water's edge: an update on the Pakistan floods

I received the following from a friend who is working at the scene of the floods in Pakistan... at the water's edge you could say. I quote what are a couple of glimpses into the enormous devastation that the floods are bringing, and how some people are able make a small difference.

You’ve probably seen from the television that vast areas of Punjab and Sindh have been flooded as inconceivable quantities of water have thundered down from the north of the country. In some cases the flood defences have simply been overwhelmed. In other cases the dreadful decision has had to be taken to deliberately breach the dykes, and allow the waters to flood hundreds of square miles of countryside in order to reduce the pressure near urban areas downstream. In effect it has been necessary to sacrifice villages and towns in order to save cities.

Before....... .... and after

....earlier this week I was able to go with our local partners to visit some of their projects in and around Sukkur in the north of Sindh.

One thing that amazed me was that, although this disaster is vast beyond our imagination, it is also very localised. It is 500km from here to Sukkur, and for the first 480 km you wouldn’t have thought that anything was wrong, except perhaps for a rather heavy monsoon. Then suddenly on every side there were vast camps, row upon row of tents housing families who had escaped the floods with little more than the clothes on their backs. On any available space beside the road were those for whom there was no room in the camps, or those who had managed to bring with them the few water buffalo or goats which represented their life’s savings.

In Sukkur, the Diocese of Hyderabad has long been running a programme to help the hundreds of destitute families who live on the banks of the river Indus, either in boats, flimsy shelters or simply under the stars. The diocese has been providing them with medical care, water filters, and informal education for the children. When the floods came, these families simply had to run for their lives and set up home wherever they could find room by the side of the road. Now the diocese is also providing them with hot meals, and a “Child-Friendly Space”, where the children can play together, rest, and be safe.

The contrast between “affected” and “unaffected” areas was even starker in the rural areas. For mile upon mile it appeared to be life as normal. Then, as we drove up a slight rise in the road, suddenly there was nothing but water for as far as the eye could see. Good agricultural land, farms, entire villages were now under five to ten feet of water, with no sign of a far bank. The two photographs labelled “before” and “after” show the land on either side of the raised ground.

We found a boat to take us the twenty minute journey over what used to be sugar-cane fields to a village which was still a few feet above the water level. About 500 families were living there, together with another 50 families who had taken refuge among them, and we learnt that there were five or six similar villages in the area. They were cut off from the world and rapidly running out of supplies, but they considered themselves blessed because they were safe, dry and in their own homes. Within the next few days our local partners will begin distribution of food, hygiene kits, and other basic essentials to these families.

The boat that took us to the village and villagers waving goodbye

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Afghan videos - what a waste

Two excellent movies (on vimeo) produced by Brian Cardarelli, one of the 10 aid workers killed in Afghanistan. (Thanks Khalid and Martin for pointing them out). He was with the Nuristan team to produce a video of the work. Sadly no more videos from him. What a waste......

Buzkashi from Brian Carderelli on Vimeo.

a metaphor of Afghanistan
Filmed in Faizabad, Afghanistan.

Hammer Jam from Brian Carderelli on Vimeo.

A modern twist on an ancient job.
Filmed in Mazar, Afghanistan.

Friday, 13 August 2010

10 Murdered Medical Aid workers in Afghanistan

From top left, Glen D. Lapp, Tom Little, Dan Terry, Thomas Grams, Cheryl Beckett,
Brian Carderelli, Karen Woo, Daniela Beyer, Mahram Ali, and Jawed

I have been following the news about the Noor Eye Camp team which was murdered - gunned down in fact - after they had trekked into and out of Nooristan and were returning to Kabul via a 'safer route' through Badakhshan. Below are the news reports as I posted them via Twitter feed and Facebook Updates. You can click on the links to see the newspaper reports:

Eight foreign medics & 2 afghans executed by Taliban | Raw Story: - tragic deaths of charity workers

07 August at 15:30

10 Aid Workers, Including 6 Americans, Killed in Afghanistan: Photo: AP An international Christian charity says mi...

07 August at 15:36

RT @cmsmission RT @AlertNet: Eight foreign medical workers killed in #Afghanistan #aid #health #aidworkers

07 August at 15:40

Very saddened by News of killing of 10 Noor workers returning from eyecamps. Been thinking about it all day. I knew the leader Dr Tom well

07 August at 22:25

RT @journeytosmile Murdered medics: Was the Taliban responsible? Or was it Nuristani bandits

08 August at 14:22

BBC Tributes paid to Dr Karen Woo killed in Afghan ambush - 'a true hero'

08 August at 19:14

Reading @cbsnews: Afghan Medical Mission Ends In Death For 10: - a helpful summary report. I knew Dr Tom well. very sad

08 August at 19:25

‎'Little family in Afghanistan' news_id=566 a photo essay on the 'Little Family' with a BIG impact

08 August at 19:28

Slain Workers Undaunted by Risks, Friends Say

08 August at 19:46

Afghan politician Abdullah praises killed medics He trained under Dr Tom Little.

08 August at 21:47

Libby Little talking about Noor's work

08 August at 23:29

‎'Victims of Afghan massacre gave years of service' very good background on the Nuristan team

09 August at 11:15 Just realised Cheryl was one of those killed!

09 August at 18:08

AP Exclusive: Aid workers' last moments

12 August at 09:00

Ten Dead in Badakhshan: Four Afghan Reflections

12 August at 9.01

'Killing aid workers: unravelling Afghan society' Michael Semple

12 August at 11:05

In Kabul, a Service for Slain Aid Workers

13 August at 14.00

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Pakistan Floods 'an area the size of England'

I remember times when I lived in Pakistan when torrential rain brought flooded roads and mud everywhere so that life was disrupted for a few days. But I find it hard to really comprehend the extensiveness of the present flooding and human misery in Pakistan. Hearing ‘an area the size of England is flooded’ and harrowing experiences of victims whose children were washed away, homes demolished, livestock and crops destroyed only starts to give some idea of the scale of the disaster that has struck millions of people and the country as a whole.
And what can anyone do?
Here, we held an emergency meeting on Monday. We had been asked by another organisation to receive donations on their behalf for the Pak Mission Society and we have a project for that. ...... We have agreed the secondment of a mission partner in Pakistan to Tearfund. I have also set up an undesignated flood relief fund to be used where needed. John Hayward

More from the CMS Website

Pakistan: ‘flood relief needs massive boost’
A report by Pak Mission Society reveals growing extent of the flood disaster and desperate need for more aid
Read more > :: 12/08/2010 ::

Pakistan floods update
Latest news of how CMS friends and partners are helping in Pakistan's flood repsonse and how you can support them
Read more > :: 10/08/2010 ::

Pakistan floods
Pakistani Christians in UK urge immediate financial response to severe floods
Read more > :: 04 August 2010 ::

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pakistan Floods What to do?

A lot of concern has been raised by the torrential rain and extensive floods in Pakistan. It is estimated that over 1,500 have died and 14 million people directly affected by the disaster.

Thousands of square miles of agricultural land have been inundated with flood water and many villages washed away. We are familiar with the effects of flooding from film of localised floods in Britain – dirty water, an all-pervasive smell of decay and difficulties in getting help as roads and bridges are washed away. The monsoon season is not due to end until mid-September.

David spoke about his language teacher’s family having to pull dead bodies from the trees by their family home, which is in ruins.

Aamir, the CMS country consultant in Pakistan, has been busy helping facilitate requests for help and enabling some of the small churches to effectively help those affected. This week he is helping to assist people in one of the worst affected area, Charsadda.

Dr Haroon informs that the Kunhar Christian Hospital in the north of the country has seen more patients suffering from water-borne diseases. There are fears of an epidemic of cholera and other diseases as people are surrounded by dirty water.

CMS is helping the PMS to provide relief in the north and in northern Punjab. Adeel leads this work and has asked for your prayers.

Food and fuel prices in Pakistan have rocketed in the last few days, affecting everyone.

Nigel has been seconded to Tearfund to help co-ordinate their relief programmes delivered through local partner organisations. He will be based in Sindh where the flood surge and heavy rain has begun to cause flooding and loss of homes. The situation there is expected to get a lot worse in the next few days as the river bursts its banks.

Christians in Pakistan want to share the love of God and express their own commitment to support those who have suffered losses in the affected areas. Even though many Christians have menial jobs and low pay they are providing resources to help others who are suddenly even worse off. The Diocese of Hyderabad is preparing to respond to need and has asked for prayers.

What’s to do?

CMS is not in a position to provide massive financial aid but there are three things that we can do.

  1. keep up to date with news of the situation. The CMS website is providing information and links to news reports, including photos.
  2. use the information to pray for people in Pakistan and for those providing relief.
  3. express support through giving towards the cost of providing urgently needed food, clean water and shelter and the future reconstruction of homes and livelihoods. You can give CMS giving website to the work of CMS partner organisation, working in the north of Pakistan PMS (Ref P.PK025) Or to other relief work across the country through CMS partners (Ref P.PK029.)

Jane, based in Hyderabad, puts things into context. She reminded us that God is in control regardless of how it looks. She refers to the Celtic Christians sailing their flimsy boats, quoting an excerpt from St Columba’s journeys: “ when the stormy waters have denied their progress they labour’d on. They sang that heaven might hear. Their song was mightier ….while the strugglers sang, demons took flight and angel trumpets rang, opening men’s weary hearts in regions wild…….awed they hung on words so new, so welcome.”

Her prayer was: May the Lord enable His people in Pakistan in the midst of the storm to bring words of hope.

based on letter sent to churches by John Hayward, CMS