Only three weeks earlier on our 5th Flood Relief mission to Shikarpur the OffroadPakistan stumbled across the Pediatric Ward at Civil Hospital in Shikarpur, the moment we saw the dilapidated situation it touched a nerve in practically each one of our team members and in unison decided to adopt this facility to bring it to some respectable standard of care. In the effort to draw attention to the facility and with the hope of raising funds from the international donor base, Faisal Kapadia and I recorded a plea for help, and shared it with the world highlighting the horrendous situation of the 100 or so kids stuffed in 3 rooms in miserable state.
We were confident that with our generous donors and a growing flood relief fund we could seriously contemplate on adopting this location and make an impact on the lives of these precious children. The only deterrent was a serious concern about rampant pilferage and corruption tarnishing the entire effort primarily the long distance from Karachi would prevent direct supervision in any long term sustainable way. Quite by chance during our relief mission to Shikarpur we were joned by Umair Jaffer, who had come from Islamabad in an attempt to assite in some medical relief camp in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, he happened to join our team and also happened to accompany our team to the hospital. Setting the wheels in motion upon our return to Karachi the project was spearheaded by a veteran offroader Taimur Mirza who initiated a series of detailed brainstorming sessions trying to figure out a way on how to pull this trick off, in the mean time Umair overstayed in Shikarpur and undertook a detailed evaluation to write a 10-odd page project proposal and feasibility to pitch CDRS [Comprehensive Disaster Response Services run by Todd Shea] for a new pediatric ward in the Civil Hospital seperate from the old location, Umair has been working with CDRS since the earthquake days some five years back and spoke highly of their commitment to helping alleviate the suffering in Pakistan
Umair effort to contact CDRS paid off and he was able to source a grant to acquire medical equipement for the award along with sustained support for doctors, nurses and other supporting staff for a few months onwards. We had on our part assured a strong pledge on behalf of SARelief & OffroadPakistan to the old ward with well over Rs. 10 lacs enough to revamp the existing old wards, repainting of the entire area, fixing or installing many furnishings, cleaning up the toilets enough to bring it all into some decent livable condition. Our commitment also took charge of the total setup and management of a free medical dispensary which would cater to the needs of patients in both the old and new pediatric ward that CDRS was setting up this dispensary also extended support to the Gynecological ward as we felt that both disciplines are intrinsically linked.
In the following weeks one of our active offroader Khalid Omar who was interning for a week at Karachi Relief Trust Flood relief camps in Shikarpur was instrumental in helping wading through the bureaucracy with detailed meetings with the DCO, EDO [Health] & the MS of the Hospital to take possession of a new building for Umair’s new pediatric wards and the finalization of total support in helping the OffroadPakistan team revamp the old setup which also included the setup of our medical dispensary in an adjacent empty room.
Umair was initially anxious to push for setting up a right across the old pediatric ward which was being partially used by the Nursing Ward, but in the final negotiations some government officials were hesitant on giving up the Nursing ward to this new setup and instead offered another building nearby which had been lying dormant for sometime and was now allocated to us.
As soon as we were confirmed of successful outcome from Khalid’s negotiations with the hospital staff, Umair immediately dispatched a procurement officer to Karachi to acquire the necessary equipment to populate the two new wards under his care. We were at that time were preoccupied in a medical camp at New Jatoi, Moro where we saw over a 1000 patients in the entire day. It was purely by coincidence that we had over-estimated our medical supplies for the medical camp by quite a long margin, having taken 120 boxes of medicines valued at over Rs. 300,000 in a truck, by the end of that day despite having prescribed to over a 1000 patients we were left with 109 cartons, we immediately reasoned to not transport them back to karachi and arranged from a truck to move them to our medical dispensary in Shikarpur where they would be stocked and catalogued for necessary dispensing to the needy patients of the hospital.
To put the final touches to the entire project a team lead by Khalid Omar and Sabiha Omar have kindly volunteered to head out for 3-4 days to Shikarpur on Sunday morning to supervise the project, along with them we have also dispatched a truck load of essential furnishings that need to be put up in the hospital as well as a generous donation of 500-packs of essential female-delivery medicinal items donated by the Al-Huda foundation, which shall be stocked up a prescribed as and when needed.
Upon reaching the hospital Khalid and Sabiha have a mammoth task on their hands, firstly they would need to cajole the pediatric patients to relocated into the new pediatric ward, which has been setup but is lying vacant, the old ward will then get a serious scrub down and a new coat of paint. After which a new set of exhaust fans will be installed in the toilets and the finally the dispensary has to be setup and stocked to a working situation. They also need to hire a few people for the next three months all of whom will come under the management of CDRS who has employed a manager and a dispenser for our utilization as well
Upon their return in a few days, I believe we will be treated to a large set of pictures of the new changes in the pediatric ward, after which I can then confidently say that with the help of some very generous donors who have trusted us with their donations we might together stand and say YES we may have made a difference.