APPEAL for Pakistani Flood Victims
An APPEAL to our humanity
The last week of July and the first week in August, 2010 has seen the worst floods on record in the history of Pakistan. The magnitude of the disaster is enormous and difficult to fathom.
To put it into perspective, just based on "official" estimates so far:
- The affected area is about 1/5 of the country (that is over 150,000 sq. km), almost all of Pakistan’s cultivatable land; that is about the size of Bangladesh or Greece; or over twice the size of Ireland or Austria. For Americans, that would be about the size of Georgia or Illinois or 10 times the size of Connecticut. 1,2
- Thousands have been confirmed dead and over Four million (4,000,000+) people have been displaced. That is more than the entire population of Chicago or Jeddah or the countries of Oman, Kuwait or Armenia; three times the population of Detroit or San Francisco. Almost six times the fallout of the Katrina hurricane disaster that even the United States with all its resources could not manage effectively.3
- The cost to agriculture alone is already estimated at over $ 1 billion and approaching 1% of the Pakistan's total GDP.4
- In response, total committed aid for relief and reconstruction has barely crossed $30million.5
- The impact on food supply, healthcare and infrastructure has yet to be calculated.
But the real story of these epic floods is not told in the cold statistics; it is in the faces and the eyes of the people, the human beings … just like you and me.
It is in the pain of:
every man who had all his life's work swept away in a flash…
every woman whose dreams for her and her children turned to nightmares…
every elderly person who will wonder at the blessing of an old age that allowed them to witness the sorrow of their offspring…
every child that is traumatized as the world around them crumbles and their little sanctuaries are no more…
These are the blameless victims of nature's wrath. They have lost everything and yet they will go on.
They do not have a choice.
BUT WE DO…
We, those of us that were spared the misery, can either passively watch this horror reality show on TV or the Internet or do something positive to actively help…
HERE IS WHAT WE CAN DO:
- For those able to do so, volunteer to go and help these people. But please do so only if you have the skill and ability to make an EFFECTIVE physical contribution and not simply for "misery tourism" or, worse, to yourself become a casualty of illness.
- For those with material resources or professional/trade skills, make a commitment (and mean it) to provide or participate in long-term assistance when the weather normalizes. Much will be needed in terms of Agriculture restoration, housing, schools, roads, medical care, transportation…AND most of all… human comfort and a spirit that tells these people they are not alone, nor forgotten… that they are one of us, or more to the point, we are one of them.
- If circumstance do not allow physical participation, then contribute financially. Do so generously to whichever organization or group or individual you feel will do the best. But, please do so after doing some research so that your hard earned money is not abused, or worse. In Pakistan, it is the local groups who often perform the best as they know the people and are not intimidated by the circumstances, misery or the lack of facilities.
- If none of the above are possible, at least create positive awareness by email, SMS, word of mouth, by writing… whatever means are at your disposal.
For the victims, their hour of suffering has come and now they are on the road to recovery.
How quickly and completely they recover is now our test.
How we react to this is also a reflection of how we want to define ourselves.
When the floods claimed their victims, no one was asked about their religion, their ethnicity; their political party affiliation or their family's resources.
Nature could not care less.
So, when we respond, let us also not ask those questions.
If the suffering of some poor Pakistani villager is somehow less human in its pain and lower in priority than someone from a background of material privilege and fair features, then we need to question whether we have moved forward or backward on the scale of civilization.
If someone's simple humanity is not enough reason, then perhaps we need to seek our own humanity.
There is no one to blame for this and no one has a sole responsibility to help.
In a way we are all to blame for neglecting our nation and our people and we are all equally responsible for restoring our pride and unifying all members of our family. Aid will not solve our problems, our own confidence and efforts will.
LET US ALL RESPOND POSITIVELY AND IN UNITY… AS HUMAN BEINGS.
1 Areas of States source: Wikipedia.com
2 Areas of countries source: worldatlas.com
3 City populations source: www.infoplease.com
4 Pakistan GDP source: World Bank, World Development Indicators
5 Damage estimate & total aid pledged source: DAWN, NATION (as of Aug 5, 2010)