(Dr. Wasel Kabir is a Canadian physician who is volunteering to help Pakistanis affected by the floods. It is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Dr. Kabir is blogging exclusively for Day 6.)
DR. WASEL KABIR'S PAKISTAN BLOG
Day 7: The People (September 8)
I wish I could stay longer and do more.
Upon waking to start the day and what would be my last few hours in the camps I could not help but reflect on our time here. What did we accomplish? Did we make s difference? Did we help?
My thoughts came to an abrupt end with a pang of pain. I was struck with a very annoying and yet very common ailment called gastro-enteritis (I really have to learn to exclude certain details from my blog). I did not feel good. I was in pain, weak and dehydrated but there was no way I was going to stay back.
Minutes later I found out that the whole team was afflicted and likewise the whole team would not be subdued. What we had to deal with was absolutely nothing when compared to what the flood victims have to deal with every minute of everyday.
We were on our way. There was still a lot we had to do, with little time to do it.
We made our way to yet another relief camp. This one was off a main road. There were thousands of people, in hundreds of tents. No running water, no electricity, lacking even the most basic necessities just hoping for a meal that day. These variables remained constant in all the other sites. The "Internally Displaced People," also known as IDPs, greeted us warmly. As usual they were excited to see us, they were appreciative, respectful, and orderly even though they had nothing.
We did our thing.
As we departed we distributed candy to the crowd of kids lead by our pediatric resident Dr. Zubairi. The image of their innocent smiling faces puts a smile on my face but it also breaks my heart. It is so humbling to see such a great level of gratitude for something so miniscule. This image, this feeling has been forever imprinted on my heart and mind. I will carry it with me, always.
This was it. It was time to go. But was there anything else we could do? Instinctively, we began rifling through our belongings parting with whatever we could. Dr. Shaikh handed a bar of soap to a thin woman, who had been aged well beyond her years by the hardships and struggles of life. Her response shocked us. She smiled, shook her head and asked in her native language, "Are you sure you do not need this? Do you have enough for you?" while handing it back to
Unbelievable. We were moved and once again humbled. Soap was a luxury item she had not seen or had the privileged of using for a very long time. She had nothing and yet she was more concerned about us!
Us, physicians who were pulling way in a cool Toyota truck with personal effects in our possession that they have never seen or heard of before. I don't have to articulate what that means and what that tells us about the type of people they are. That's not a cop out; it's obvious and overwhelming. This is the epitome of pure selflessness and generosity of spirit.
None of us wanted to leave. But it was time to return home to Canada, to our family and friends, to our life. We left the environment with a heavy heart having witnessed the devastation left in the wake of the floods, deeply moved by the resilient but sensitive people hoping that one day we will return.
(Some editing done by Day 6 producers)
LINK: Islamic Relief Canada
DONATE: CBC Pakistan Relief