news About the Floods Almost Unbelievable
These words were found at the beginning of a flood update written by Fellowship International missionaries, Rod and Donna Black, currently located in Murree, Pakistan in the north. Having been missionaries in Pakistan for 25 years they have seen firsthand the devastation caused by war, earthquakes, floods and droughts. The current crisis in Pakistan, however, has heightened the senses of even these most seasoned veteran missionaries.
A United Nations official says that if calculations to date are correct the number of people affected by Pakistan's massive floods could exceed the combined total of three recent major natural disasters (namely the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, Pakistan's 2005 earthquake and the January 13th earthquake which rocked Haiti earlier this year).
What is the situation?
Pakistan is approximately equal in size to the province of Alberta. Imagine the impact if a fifth of Alberta, with a population of 160 million (that's over four times the population of Canada), were submerged in water. Now, try to comprehend millions of people evacuating their homes as flooded rivers have overflowed their banks. Many of these people escaped with only the clothes on their backs.
In the Sindh province where Fellowship International has ministered for decades, hundreds of villages and large cities, have been evacuated due to concerns over imminent flooding. All of these people require shelter, daily food, water and medicine. With the monsoon season in full swing and temperatures in the high 30s/40s, the risk of disease is on the rise.
While the immediate need is how to help those who have been left homeless, the destruction and damage done by flood waters will continue for months ahead due to food shortages. The United Nations has warned that unless farmers in hard-hit Punjab and Sindh provinces manage to plant their winter crop of wheat in mid-September as normal, there might be food shortages in the region and the nation as a whole.
What is FAIR doing on the ground?
FAIR (Fellowship Agency for International Relief) has dispatched an initial $5,000 to assist with immediate needs in Sindh province. We are working on the ground, in part, through national partners like NN, a national believer who is involved in church planting in upper Sindh and is working closely with our Fellowship International personnel. Much of the relief work to date has been done in northern Sindh where the damage has been most significant. NN and his team have developed a distribution plan that has been effective in making sure those in greatest need are receiving aid. In addition to relief supplies being distributed (food items, water, medicines) they are also providing prepared meals to families each day.
Shikarpur Christian Hospital (SCH)SCH reports that they have adopted a group of 65 families that have around 8 people per family and are camped at a spot less than a mile from our gate. They have virtually nothing but the shirts on their backs. Besides seeing patients in the hospital, the staff are working overtime to provide relief to affectees that have come to Shikarpur seeking refuge from the flood water. They have started feeding these families twice daily with prepared food and are in the process of getting them set up to where they can prepare their own food, at which point they'll move on to helping others. SCH workers will also be giving the evacuees health teaching on topics including hand washing and water purification. Soap for bathing and for washing clothes will be distributed and booklets on treatment of diarrhea will be given out.
HyderabadTo date (August 20th), Hyderabad is still dry but is quickly becoming a refugee center for displaced people within the province. Terry Wiley writes, Even though Hyderabad was already supposed to been hit with a huge wave coming down the river from up-country, we are still awaiting the arrival of the same. Meanwhile, work continues at a furious pace as they strengthen the levees alongside of the city.
Can we be assured that those in need get the help they need?
Some TV/radio news reports have said that although governments and individual donors cannot ignore the significant need in Pakistan, they have been slow to respond. There are reasons for this lack of response. Some feel many Canadians are enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacations and they are not fully aware of the growing crisis. Others, however, feel the political climate within Pakistan and concerns of Al-Quaeda interference are causing concern among donors.
We are fortunate through FAIR to have a very credible link to relief work on the ground as our missionaries in Pakistan enjoy a close working relationship with several key national believers involved in relief work. One of the men, NN, reported to Terry Wiley, Fellowship International's Field Leader in Pakistan, that the army has begun providing two soldiers to go with the team when relief supplies are distributed. He was told, You guys are the only ones around here who are doing distribution properly. The army also told them that they are the only civilian group that they are sending soldiers with; otherwise, they only go with their own units to their own camps/setups. The presence of soldiers provides greater safety for relief workers as they distribute supplies.
How can you help?
We would ask you to consider how the Lord would have you respond to this growing catastrophe in Pakistan. Online donations can be made by clicking here or donations can be forwarded directly to FAIR: P.O. Box 457, Guelph, ON N1H 6K9.
Thank you in advance for giving a FAIR share in the name of Christ to those who are suffering in in Pakistan.