Islamic Relief USA CEO Anwar Khan sends this message from Pakistan, where he’s surveying destruction to homes and infrastructure and monitoring IRUSA projects being designed to help victims following the massive earthquake there.
We started the morning early and traveled up a nearby mountain in a small jeep. Only one car can pass at a time. The earthquake broke off parts of the road, and landslides are a constant hazard.
On the way we passed local government buildings that were being rebuilt after the earthquake of 2005. Ten years after that disaster, the people are still recovering, and now they have to start again. How long will they be rebuilding this time?
When we arrived in Baasi village council, we were met by local volunteers and a long line of people waiting for help. A local organization had already verified that they qualified for assistance.
Each family received blankets, sleeping mats, pillows and other necessities given by IRUSA donors. Many people could not sign their names, so they signed with a thumbprint. Then they headed up or down the mountain with their supplies.
Most of the people in line were men, except 10-year-old Azmat. Her father died 5 years ago, and she has no brothers. Her supplies were in bags bigger than she was, so we helped her carry her them.
” Most of the people in line were men, except 10-year-old Azmat. Her father died 5 years ago, and she has no brothers. Her supplies were in bags bigger than she was.
When we got to where Azmat’s family is staying, we met her mother, Mina Bhibi. Before the earthquake, she was already struggling to provide for her four daughters alone. She cleaned the local clinic for about $10 a month, and she depended on help from her neighbors to survive. Her daughters could not afford to go to school. Now, their house is destroyed, and they’re in desperate need of help. Every tent, blanket etc. makes a difference when you have such little. The most vulnerable are the most in need during emergencies.
Later I accompanied Zia ur-Rehman to his home. He has a disability and was going up the mountain on one leg with a stick. When the earthquake hit, most of his family fled from their house, so they were safe when it collapsed in the second shock—except for one aunt, who was trapped under a wooden beam. The family is living in a tent now.
With help from extended family, Zia is now trying to rebuild his house. However, if he rebuilds again in the same way with stone, bricks and mud, it is likely to collapse again someday. He just wants life to get back to normal, so he can do his work as a tailor and support his family.
In the meantime, the winter kits from IRUSA donors are helping his family stave off the cold. As the winter weather looms, every bit helps.
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