Pakistan: Helping with the flood relief
- September 2, 2010 3:52 PM |
- By Your Voice
Canadian Lindsay Gladding is helping with disaster relief efforts in Pakistan's Punjab province. (Submitted by Lindsay Gladding)
Bio: Lindsay Gladding is an emergency team manager for World Vision Canada and has travelled to Pakistan to assist in the flood relief efforts.
My story: The last two weeks have been filled with meeting local and international agencies trying to co-ordinate World Vision's work so that we reach as many people as possible, visiting communities to do rapid assessments of what people are saying, what they need, where the gaps are, trying desperately to get on the internet at every opportunity possible, which are few and far between, writing proposals to donors for funding and hiring local staff to ensure we have the human resources necessary to reach the many Pakistani families who have been devastated by this emergency.
I am in Multan, which is the city that has been set up as the humanitarian co-ordination centre for Punjab province in response to the massive flooding in this country. There are more than 3.5 million people identified as extremely vulnerable as a result of this disaster in Punjab alone and they are spread out over huge distances in small settlements, camps, schools, anywhere they could find which was dry and on high ground. This is making reaching everyone difficult to say the least, not to mention the fact that so many communities are still completely cut off weeks after the initial emergency due to ongoing flooding as deep as six metres in some areas. The other complicating factor is that the communities that have been affected by the flooding were for the most part desperately poor to begin with.
I have seen far too many acutely malnourished children in the last few days -- some that will certainly not survive this disaster. I visited a group of women who had been displaced from their homes more than two weeks ago. They are currently living in a dilapidated school compound and their living conditions are absolutely dire. There were flies and mosquitoes everywhere. It was sweltering hot, and evident from the smell that there is no functional place to go to the toilet. There were small babies swinging in hammocks beneath beds while children came out of every corner trying to see what all the commotion was about.
The women told me that they left their homes in the middle of the night, having been warned that the water was coming within the hour. They fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, gathering their children and any livestock they could manage. They have no money, no stocks of food as that was all left behind. It was painfully evident that many children were malnourished, I was told by one woman that her infant child had died two days before likely from diarrhea and with the lack of clean water and adequate food I am afraid we are going to face a massive health catastrophe in the coming weeks.
These families are in desperate need of food, clean water and medical care -- simple requests, and yet so much work to do to ensure that we are able to meet these basic live-saving needs of all those that have been affected. It's hard not to think about my own son and how distraught I would be at being unable to feed him, watching him get weaker and weaker every day hoping and praying that somehow I would be able to get food for him and he would survive. We live such a blessed life in Canada, we are worlds apart and yet not so different at all. I believe we can make a difference here though and thanks to the support of many Canadians we already are.
Related: CBC IN DEPTH: Crisis in Pakistan
Related: Pakistan flood effects will linger: aid agencies
Donations made to World Vision and other registered charities for Pakistan relief efforts between August 2 and Sept. 12 will be eligible for matching.
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