A worldwide appeal by Dr. Awab Alvi for upgrading the pediatric ward in Shikarpur. He takes you through a walk-thru tour of the Pediatric ward at the Civil Hospital Shikarpur to show the deplorable the conditions that have been aggravated due to a large influx of flood related victims into the area. The ward looks after only the severe cases, upon our visit there were three natal wards a total of 20 beds and it held a capacity of over 100 children [PICS] stacked within it has been fortunate that some generous donor had installed airconditioners so as to make this barely livable, if you were to walk out of the rooms, the stench in the heat and the stench in the hallway is unimaginable, toilets down the hall are over flooding beyond belief.
On return after our first relief effort to Sukkur two weeks back we had several meetings amongst the core group of volunteers adopting a long term medical relief and rehabilitation strategy, however during the subsequent week we continued to receive urgent demands for help emanating from many of the inundated villages of Sukkur and Shikarpur
Thus in response to these pleas we embarked yet again on the 21st of August with a convoy of 8 trucks laden with relief goods of which seven were carrying relief hampers while one carried the load of a hundred tents accompanied by their donor. The convoy consisted of 7 cars and we made our way to Sukkur at around 5 pm passing through Hyderabad and Kotri which was slowly becoming inundated with flood water as the water levels had considerably increased since our first relief mission a week earlier.
Our staging area & warehouse was arranged by Taimur Mirza through the local MNA Agha Taimur located on the main Shikarpur – Sukkur link road. We immediately offloaded our seven trucks of relief goods into this warehouse and with the help of the U.N coordination center in Sukkur dispatched the 100 tents to a PAF-managed IDP relief campsite on the Sukkur Bypass road
Continue reading “Report: Flood Relief Mission #2 to Shikarpur” »
If there is anything the government should learn from this flood, it is to take education and women empowerment more seriously. The enormous task of taking care of so many IDPs iz only magnified many fold by lack of a good base. If these IDPs were a little better educated it would have been so much easier for the govt. to house them. How can a mother take care of 10-15 children? It is simply not possible. Corroborating Dr Nighats experience when told about family planning theyre responses were ‘have you no fear of Allah’ or ‘our husbands want it-they beat us’ Many females do understand but the men dont.
A woman came to one of our camps today asking for birth control pills an amazing happening, to our shame- we had none with us – I wonder if medical teams should carry IM depoprovera-council them and administer?
We went to 3 camps today All of them were tent villages
- it is good that people are being moved from schools, not all of the desks will become firewood
- please make a note that after the floods are over much help will be
As customary to our Relief trips to the flooded areas, Faisal Kapadia and I will be live GPS tracking and Live Tweeting all along the way. Our plan is to depart Karachi on the morning of Sunday 22nd August accompany a convoy of 8 relief good trucks, be joined by 7-8 accompanying vehicles with around 25 odd volunteers to head to Shikarpur. We hope to offload all the goods in a secure warehouse in Shikarpur and from there strategically disburse the relief to deserved people in the area.
As different from the previous CoverItLive we launched last time, our emphasis is to concentrate / share tweets from only the people taking part in this particular mission and the readers will not be bothered or overwhelmed by the other twitter chatter.
GPS Tracking will be maintained for record sake, to be transmitted every 5-10 minutes from our phones
Continue reading “Flood Relief Mission 2 – Live Tracking & Tweeting” »
Dr. Nighat Shah’s brief about our trip:
Khairpur at this moment is housing huge bulk of displaced people from Larkana, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, and many smaller villages like thul, ghouspur etc. The registered displaced people are more than 50,000. Around 120 camps are housing people in small clusters. These range from 250-300 people in smaller schools to 5000-8000 in bigger schools.
In all camps, the majority is of children and the statistics are mind boggling! In a camp at Ghari Mori, district Khairpur, housing 280 people, there were 44 men, 67 women and 169 children. Almost all children are sick, ranging from stunted growth, severe malnourishment, diarrhoea and skin problems. Almost all women are anemic, weak, malnourished, perpetually pregnant or breast feeding, and the sad part is that there is no milk but the baby is still latched, always! More than 20-25 percent are pregnant.
Brief review of our activities- Day 1
As a team comprising of a retired pediatrician (working at SOS villages), a local gynecologist / obstetrician, 2 soon to be graduates from AKU and I, a recent Masters in Public Health graduate from Harvard and an instructor in the Dept. of General Surgery, AKU, Karachi, visited displaced peoples camps in District Khairpur.
We left around 7 a.m. for the visit but worked early in the morning to organize the medicines available in boxes so prescription would be faster. The hospitality of our hosts is of tremendous. I had to have two cups of tea in the morning (that is more than I drink in a year :-). They do not let you work until you are well provided for and do not stop asking you to drink up and eat up. Continue reading “Pakistan Flood Relief: Field Notes from Doctors to District Khairpur – Day 1” »
Both Awab and I recently went on separate trips to Kot Addu and Sukkur, into just some of the areas affected by the flood. I think that by now, the scale of the disaster is hitting people- even Ban Ki Moon’s statement sent everyone scurrying for ideas and strategies to deal with the flood. The food relief truck I went with was organized by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh, an inspiring photographer and friend, who pulled in food through donations, and had someone arrange for a truck to transport it all to Kot Addu. I must also mention that even now, Saad’s father remains trapped at the PARCO refinery in the Kot Addu area.
I realize that we’re going through the greatest natural disaster that we’ve gone through- ever, and what’s more important, is that the world is realizing this as well. Rather than going into the usual analysis-paralysis of why the floods were so bad this year, or why the politicians are so indifferent, this article candidly shares what Awab and I have learned from our short trips into the field (Awab is more experienced with relief work, since he also helped out with earthquake and army-operation refugees earlier). I’m also cowriting this with him so that we share experiences from different affected floodzones. If you are working in Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunwa or any of the many, many regions that we aren’t please get in touch or just write your thoughts out as a comment. No time for formalities here.
Normally, a social worker would write this, but I wanted us, normal people with no training, to put out thoughts together on what worked, and what didn’t work based on our experiences. Why? Because the majority of Pakistanis who can help- are average people like Awab, Saad, myself and you.
Continue reading “Pakistan Flood Relief: Notes from Kot Addu and Sukkur” »
It seems we are finally off on our mission to provide relief to the flood affected region in Sukkur, Sindh. The OffroadPakistan has collected some significant funding for taking 6 trucks of relief good valued at more then Rs. 2.4 Million – four trucks of standardized basic food valued at Rs. 16,80,000, one truck containing a mixture of food hampers acquired from Makro at a cost of Rs. 4,43,585 and the sixth truck laden with tents and water bottles valued at Rs. 6,75,000. We are also trucking 250 1-kg tin cans of read-to-eat biryani generously donated by a friend of ours. We are not taking any medicine, but hope to concentrate on a medical relief later. The cost of trucking is approximately Rs. 25,000 per truck and im sure there shall be incidentals in between for this transportation process
IIt must be remembered that all this is the effort of quite a lot of people and the generous contribution of Pakistanis wanting to help their fellow citizens who are suffering in these devastated areas. We as representatives of OffroadPakistan are headed towards Sukkur hoping to distribute three trucks there while our friends at MotorSports Club of Pakistan shall accompany three trucks with an attempt to approach Jacobabad and hope to disburse it there.
Our plans are that we do plan for a phase 2 of the relief effort which we hope shall be a larger and grander push, this first trip shall serve as a reconnaissance trip for the bigger push in 10-12 days after this.
With so much of confusion in the area we are hoping to do our best, to keep track of our progress I have installed a GPS tracker on my Blackberry which will transmit our location every 60 seconds, it will be a drain on the battery but it shall remain on as long as Mobilink service supports GPRS in the area.
The past seven days Faisal Chohan a TEDFellow has been feverishly working to establish an incident reporting website at http://pakrelief.crowdmap.com/ to monitor the flooding situation in Pakistan. This is technically a Ushahidi platform connected to an SMS shortcode allowing people with cell phones to give live updates of issue on the ground. Ideally this incident reporting portal should then be used by humanitarian relief organizations to adequately divert resources where needed.
To submit an incident all you need to do is sto end message Type FL “Your needs/ situation/emergency” and send it to FL 3441. It will cost the user Rs. 2.00 per message. You can also send the report to email@example.com or fill out this incident reporting form on the website. After proper verification of the incident which may even mean calling the incident reporter back it shall be shared with the world. Read more about his effort at the TED Fellows Blog. He is slowly ironing out the bugs with tremendous cooperation from the International community of technologists and an amazing team on the ground in Pakistan.
One often wonders how a country run by a bunch of total lunatics can be expected to perform a reasonable job when confronted with a natural disaster. It may be a harsh generalisation, but Pakistan suffers far more seriously at the hands of bureaucratic pencil-pushers during natural disasters, while millions of Good Samaritans chip in to provide relief in a far more organised and generous way than the very people they have voted into power.
In recent times, we have had our fair share of natural and man-made disasters and each has left a lasting scar. By the grace of God we have somehow managed to pull through, but I often wonder if we had been better prepared would we have been able to save even one more life from the hundreds that lay at our feet?
Continue reading “Op-Ed: Managing the Disaster Managers” »
Over the past two days our team of volunteers at Motorsports Club of Pakistan and the OffroadPakistan have been in some intense discussion on what might be the best course of action. We have been busy raising funds locally and commitments have reached to a tune of close to Rs. 2.5 million. The online drive at SARelief has touched $2278 from a few generous donors, as the message spreads im sure this easy PayPal payment option, so close to the Islamic month of Ramadan will most likely get a considerable level of funding for the devastation in Pakistan.
Flood has started to reach Sindh from the last two days, the winding Indus river which curves and twists across Sindh is likely to significantly change the terrain for a long time to come, it is anticipated that with the immense pressure of the water it is definite that the water will overrun the pre charted course of the Indus River and alter its embankments cutting a new course towards the sea spreading its wings wide across the plains of Sindh in its due course.
A few major concerns do remain, the question that lurks in the minds of many, will the barrages hold up. It seems the Sukkur barrage is as of now holding strong, credit can be equated to calculated and unplanned rupture of a few embankments upstream which have helped soften the pressure of the main flood, these leaks will continue to seep the pressure and lessen the impact in sindh, sadly it also does mean more flooding in the affected areas.
Continue reading “Some thoughts into Planning for the Flood Relief in Sindh” »
The earthquake’s that have hit Pakistan in 2005 and 2008 were regarded as the worst tragedy for the nation. Few have realized that the recent floods have in fact caused more damage then those earthquake’s did. As per latest reports official figures stand at 1600 dead and 12 million left homeless.
The Monsoon rains began two weeks ago and have washed away roads, bridges and communications lines, hampering rescue efforts by aid organizations and the government. The downpours have grounded many aircraft trying to rescue people and ferry aid, including six helicopters manned by US troops on secondment from Afghanistan.
Currently 30,000 Pakistan Army troops are busy in rescue and relief efforts. Where as the Earthquake of 2005 and 2008 and the IDP crisis were devastating, unlike the Flooding they were contained within a geographic area. Flooding has been reported from Kyhber-Pakthunkwa all they way down to Southern Punjab and Sindh. There is only so much the government and the armed forces can do in the face of such a massive disaster and so we as citizens have undertaken the mantle of trying to add our little drop to the ocean
To that end, we have decided to take up relief efforts to the areas of Sindh in an attempt to help bring relief to the suffering. The idea is initially to partner with a team of who is willing to take the relief goods up. We hope to launch such an intiative with Motorsports Club of Pakistan and our very own OffroadPakistan group to some part of Sindh and personally deliver the goods there. To help our international donors we have partnered with SA Relief operating under the aiegus of Paksef a US Tax-deductible 501(c)(3) NGO registered in California to enable our US based well wishers to contribute to the relief via Chipin and Paypal
The online collection is slated to run through out Ramazan to tap into the generous Zakat giving ability of Muslims around the world, ideally this would mean two missions, one from the cash funds collected personally in Karachi while the second mission will utilize the generous contribution from online donations. It is my personal promise that all funds collected will be disbursed off in a total transparent manner as possible, all recipts and travel expenditures will be posted online for the world to see. Like the IDP Relief effort we did in 2009 here, here
Donations can be made directly into Behbood Association Karachiaccount at Standard Chartered in Karachi. A/C#08-2315386-01 [PakRs] Swift Code SCBLPKKXXX or even online on the widget provided above which is processed via Paypal and these online contributions are being collected by PAKISTAN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING FOUNDATION a 501(c)(3) registered California based not-for-profit organization, EIN# 20-2950808. For info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.