Iftikhar Ali’s diary, Day 3
Today started with a visit to a hospital in Karachi. Here we saw children from flood affected areas suffering from typhoid, malaria and dengue fever (otherwise known as bonecrusher disease). We were told the cases have just started coming in and will grow in numbers.
These kids were getting immediate treatment but as the numbers grow it will become more difficult to treat all. It was strange to think of these kids as ‘lucky’.
“A kids ward with no toys” said Ivor….”I wish we had brought some toys”
Next stop was north of Karachi to another IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp. This was a bigger one than yesterday but out in the open with ramshackle tents housing families of 5 or sometimes 10. We helped prepare typhoid vaccinations for a hundred children as the doctors administered them. The children jostled for position, “Me first, me first….” no fear of needles here. We looked through the records but some of the children have no surnames and illiterate parents, the doctors will keep the records but with a fluid moving population of no fixed abode how can they track who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t.
We walked through the camp, and spoke to a middle aged man, who was from Khairpur about 350km away. He was in the camp with his wife and nine children. “We only got our tent 3 days ago he said”. In Khairpur he was a worker on the land and his boys worked on the land too. “We have lost everything, and the landowner won’t let us go back until we repay his loan.” We asked how much the loan was ….fifteen thousand rupees (GBP110). He was waiting for his watan card from the government (A card issued by the government allowing IDP’s to purchase goods to the value of approx GBP735). “I just want to go back and work on the land again”
Shazad gave out some sweets to the children and this created a little noise, the reaction from our host was one of consternation. He said “It’s time to leave now” and ushered us out . The concern on his face was very visible and he later explained that an aid worker had been kidnapped from that very camp the previous day. Attracting any attention was not advisable.
Tomorrow we fly into the heart of the floods where the water is yet to recede, I do not think we are prepared for what we are about to see.
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