Iftikhar Ali’s diary first installment, Day 2
We arrived in Karachi this morning.
Our first visit was to the compound of the Pakistan Medical Association, this is the body working directly with MDAUK. We inspected nutirition and shelter packs bought for distribution. MDAUK provided a short briefing to prepare ourselves for the next few days of relief work.
We then proceeded to an area just outside of Karachi where we visited an IDP (internally displaced person) camp. This was very basic shelter containing 150 families including a mix of men, women, children and the elderly. We were there to distribute shelter packs (duvets, pillows, blankets and sheets). To maintian some order a ration card system is in place. No card no pack!
Amir was a young boy of no more than 7, he had come from Jacobabad some 6 hours away with his family in search of food and shelter. Luckily his mother and father were still alive and he was the eldest of three children. I asked if he liked the camp and if he was eating well. He smiled through a weatherbeaten face saying “it was acha (good) in the camp”. His was a genuine smile…
We clambered on the MDAUK lorries and lowered the packs. Keeping order was the first challenge as people without cards begged for packs.No one was violent but a heart wrenching plea from a toothless old woman is difficlult to ignore. We stuck to the protocol and tried not to be emotional. But how do you refuse a 7 year old girl with one eye when she has no card and her mother is too illiterate to get one??? This is no professional beggar…this is the true destitute.
As the heat beat down and the remaining packs diminished, a sense of panic simmered in the air. Looking into the eyes of those that had gone without and no words to comfort them (or ourselves) we walked over to the second lorry.
As the crowd descended on us Dr Iftikhar, Chairman MDAUK, said these people are much calmer than the first days we came, but even now a couple of police officers entered the camp sensing the crowds disappointment. Balancing between doing the right thing, a desperate desire to help all of them and the disappointment of leaving some without we distributed the rest and left. Who was more disppointed them or us???
In the evening, we visited a hospital set up for Women suffering from obstetric fistulae. An affliction affecting some 25,000 Pakistani women per annum, during childbirth resulting in constant urination. These women were truly abandoned by all and this hospital has begun to change that dramaticallly, MDAUK has been instrumental in suppporting this.
Tomorrow we go to a bigger flood relief camp with more supplies.
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