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VISION21-Flood affectees relief effort

By Awaam

Phase 1. Distribution of Medical packs for families in Nowshehra & Pabbi

As the first phase of our efforts to help flood affectees we agreed to distribute medical and Hygiene packs for 1000 families consisting of supplies to last one month. Each pack consisted of the following:

Everyday Milk pack, Aqua water cleaning tablets, Paracetamol tablets, Paracetamol and Brufen syrups for children and ORS pack for children.

On 15th Aug, we setup to leave for flood hit areas in Nowshehra district, as per our plan, to deliver these items. We were a team of five people including Shaista ( team leader) Hussain , Bilal, Mudassar  and Saeed.  We travelled by a coaster bus.  We set off at 9:00 am. We went through GT road according to our plan. When we reached Taxila and Wah cantt it started to rain heavily making driving very difficult.  The rain continued until we crossed Hassan Abdal.

We stopped at Attock khurd, where we saw first signs of the flood.

The Indus was flooding at peak and as far as we could see the houses in the surrounding areas had been drowned under the water.  We could only see the tops of very tall pine trees out of the water.

After about half an hour we entered Nowshehra cantt. We stopped there to find the whereabouts of various camps. Unfortunatley there were no directions or signs that could direct us. The roads, markets and the houses presented a gloomy view of the havoc and destruction that the flood had caused. The basement floors of the markets were still fully immersed in the water. We had to stop and ask from the local people repeatedly about the direction to the relief camps.

While heading towards the main camp, setup in the Government College of Technology, we saw on the roadside a small khema basti of about 20-30 tents. We stopped there to deliver the aid items initially. When the bus stopped near their tents, the people and children came near the bus running from their tents and surrounded the bus completely. There were nearly 35 families accommodated in those tents. These were the people who had fled from Mardan and kachi basti near kashti pul. It was very difficult for us to come out of the bus in the first place because of the rush.

Most people thought that we had brought food for them. People were so desperate to get the aid items that they started quarrelling with one another even before we downloaded anything from the bus. We told them to go back to their tents and promised to reach every tent and deliver to them the medicine and milk packs. Two of those people helped us in sending them back to their tents. We went tent by tent and delivered the medicine to them and told them about their usage. While doing all this I noticed that despite being in a miserable condition, sitting under a tent and having nothing at all, every one of them was thanking us for helping them.  Some of the people we talked to about their conditions told us that no one has provided any aid to them yet. They told that all the aid and donations are given to those sheltered in big camps in the city, and no one stops for them.

Our next stop was the Government College of Technology camp. This camp was sheltering around 560 families [3289 people] who had lost their home in floods. We went to visit the free medical camp setup there. Children, with their hands and faces unwashed and caked with mud, were roaming about the tents and medical camps. They gathered around every vehicle entering the main gate in hope of getting food or aid items. Women were sitting on the ground outside the medical camp waiting for their turn. The little kids in their laps seemed ill as they were crying.  We met the doctor working in the medical camp. He told us that they were present in the camp since the start of August. The medical camp was setup by the human development commission of Pakistan Government. He told that most of the people were suffering form outbreak of infections because of the dirty water. He told that they needed most the medicine for itchiness, skin inflammation, eyes infection, fever and pain, and cholera in children. We donated nearly 200 packs to them for the affectees.

We went to the different tents that the flood hit families had setup for themselves along the GT road. There we found some affectees who had come from Azakhel. Their women did not understand Urdu at all. Their men could speak and understand Urdu so they helped us communication to them about the usage of medicine we delivered to them.

We then carried on towards Pabbi  and stopped at various tents/camps near the road and on the footpath and distributed the medicine among women and milk packs to the children. We also visited the medical camps of the National Highway Authority and Nowshehra Police where doctors were seeing the patients who lived near the camp in their tents. We donated some medicine to the camp and distributed milk packs among the children and women. In Pabbi we went to the Government High School, where almost 120 families were settled.

On the way back we stopped in Akora Khattak and went into the Cenna School & College. The principal of the college Ghulam Nabi Cenna told us that 679 families were living in the college building since the flood displaced them from their homes in late Jul. We donated numerous packs to them.

There was another mobile relief team of Al-Mustufa Trust whom we met on our way and donated some quantity of medicine to them. They were providing food and medical aid to the flood hit families in Nowshehra, charsadda and Peshawar.

We now had only milk packs left, which we distributed among the children in the tents near the road from Akora khattak to Attock khurd.

In our visit, I have observed a few things that I want to share and which are important for planning our visits in future. First and foremost the need outweighs any efforts by a huge margin.

1-      We should asses the need of aid as exactly as possible before our visit. Randomness doesn’t help. Planning does. While time is of essence, we must understand that this is a tragedy that will need help and relief for a long time to come. So proper planning is must.

2-      The process of delivering the aid items becomes very difficult as people start snatching the things and many of them who don’t do this, they remain deprived. Therefore delivery logistics should be preplanned and executed without emotion to make sure that aid reaches maximum number of people.

3-      In all the camps we visited, there was no lady doctor and there is growing and urgent need for lady doctors and lady health visitors.

4-      Children and women always seem to be over- run by men. Special children and women packs should be made to target delivery to less empowered.

5-      One must never undermine human dignity by any act of omission and commission, no matter what.

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