January 27, 2011
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services “Ours was a love marriage,” said Soomri, a frail woman with almond-shaped eyes that seem to dance when thinks about her youth. “He was the only literate man in town,” she said of her husband, “And we were both favored by our parents.” The 75-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 23 lives in a small village in the northeast corner of Pakistan’s Sindh province. Described by her extended family as easily distracted, Soomri seems like she’d just rather tell stories than worry about anything else. With whoever will listen to her, she talks … about her village and the weather and her children. But mostly she talks about her husband.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services Dulshan Bajkani looks to be about 23 years old, but she says she doesn’t know for sure. Regardless of her age, she’s endured more in the last six months than any woman in her twenties should have to bear. Her nightmare began in early August, when record rainfalls throughout Pakistan caused the nearby Indus River to overflow its banks. She remembers hearing about the floods on the news; some people the village left right away but many others thought the warnings were exaggerated and stayed. But the water did come – in the middle of the night – and Dulshan, her husband, and her three daughters fled quickly. Most people left everything behind in the panic that ensued, running away without shoes or scarves and having time only to grab frightened children.
September 24, 2010
By Kamran Chaudhry On August 3, Zakaullah broke his right leg while fleeing from his house as floodwaters rose. “It was midnight. The rangers had raised the alarm that the water from Indus River would enter our village any moment but we kept hoping otherwise”, he said “I slipped in panic and broke my right leg on the spot”. Zakaullah was rushed to Fazalpur, a city about 8 kilometres from his home, where he was treated and now he walks with a help of a zimmer frame. He was one of the 900 beneficiaries at a Caritas distribution in Basti Lashari, a village in Rajan Pur district. But Basti Lashari was chosen for another reason, says the medical social worker who assisted Caritas team. “More than one disabled children in a single family is common here. The peasant women are usually on bare feet and do not use gloves to protect their hands during [...]
Anila J.Gill, Caritas Pakistan director, spoke to Kamran Chaudhry about the recent challenges in dealing with country’s most catastrophic floods which has affected more than 20 million people. How serious is the humanitarian crisis following the massive floods in Pakistan? The flood waters have washed away 10 percent of our crops and now food security challenges us in coming months. The risk of epidemics is also growing especially in the worst hit areas. It is very painful to see people without food and shelter. The scale of disaster is so huge that people will not forget it for a long time. Is the world doing enough to respond to the disaster? The total revised appeal of Caritas Pakistan is for 171,310,259 rupees/€ 1,571,654 (this is part of a larger appeal by the whole confederation which is calling for €10 million). So far we have received hundred percent responses from our funding partners. Within [...]
August 24, 2010
By Shahzada Irfan Khursheed Bibi stood out amongt the recipients of relief goods with a bandage worn around her fractured arm. Being over 60 her arm would take a long time to heal. Besides, she knew the treatment would prove a heavy burden on the limited resources she had at her disposal. Khursheed recalled the fateful day when all of a sudden her life changed dramatically. “It started raining heavily. All of us stayed inside thinking we were safe but actually we were not.” Her three-room house built on mud foundation in Rehampur village, Okara, could not withstand the onslaught of heavy rainstorm and caved in. The room in which she lived with her husband suffered the most damage. The roof and walls fell to the ground with a thud entrapping the occupants. “I didn’t have enough time to leave. The bricks fell on my arm and caused the fracture. But the biggest [...]
By Shahzada Irfan For Ameen Babar the working days are long, there are no days off in sight and no plans for a holiday. As Disaster Management Programme Coordinator with Caritas Pakistan in Faisalabad, his days are filled by trips to areas devastated by rainstorms and flashfloods. With road networks destroyed or submerged under water, travelling to these places is not at all easy. “Sometimes you even have to wade through waist-deep water, not knowing where you are going to end up,” says Ameen. Pakistan is currently facing the worst floods in 80 years. Millions of people are affected. Around eight million people need help with shelter, food, water and medicines. Ameen’s job requires him to prepare communities to survive disasters, assess damage, draw up appeals for funds for the national Caritas office and assure supplies of relief goods reach the most vulnerable people. He also has to monitor the work of local aid [...]
June 23, 2010
“This is not a regular ambulance. It can save more lives because it contains an intensive care unit for patients in a critical condition,” said Jameel Khoury, Caritas Jerusalem Project Manager. The new ambulance has been provided by Caritas to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Home to 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Border restrictions mean that people are trapped inside with limited access to goods and services. Israel launched military operations in Gaza at the start of the year. In the months after the bombing, a Caritas mobile medical team travelled around Gaza offering counselling and medical support. Professionals helped people deal with the stress which is common among conflict survivors. Many cases involve trauma in children. If left unaddressed, mental health issues such as depression can develop. “I have seen cases of eating disorders, insomnia, chronic fear, disorientation and trauma,” said Maha [...]
More than two and a half million people were forced from their homes as a result of clashes between the Pakistan army and militants in the Swat Valley. The district used to be known as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’ and attracted thousands of tourists who came for skiing and mountain walking – but that was before the fighting started. Sheirin, who has lived for 70 years in the village of Malamjabar, had to run for his life with his wife and eight children. “One of my nephews was killed,”he said. Thanks to Caritas, Sheirin and his family received a package of relief items shortly after reaching a safe refuge. Caritas supported 385,000 people who had to flee their homes in Swat in 2009, providing food, healthcare, shelter, sanitation, clean water and household items.