By Saghir Aslam
For one and a half
months I lived with the earthquake victims - burying
bodies - some without coffins - witnessing amputations
and watching people cope with life without limbs.
Sadly I saw people trying to sleep under the stars
in freezing temperature with no tents, no blankets
and most of the times empty stomach. I saw babies
cry for food and watched their helpless mothers’
tears flow. I heard a grownup man cry in agony for
his relatives who had been buried alive.
It was an experience that will be embedded in my
mind forever - as long as I live. I could not hold
back my tears as I saw the innocent faces suffering
and I couldn’t help them at that moment.
Our typical day during Ramadan started immediately
after Suhur and Fajr prayer and after Ramadan we
would leave our Head Office at 4am and return around
midnight. The next day we would make necessary preparations
and our second team would depart early in the morning.
We traveled in trucks and Suzuki vans depending
upon the conditions and the peculiar needs of the
day. We rented the transport instead of buying the
expensive trucks and the Suzuki vans.
It was truly a great blessing from Allah S.T and
great news that Saba Trust warehouse had received
two full forty foot containers just before the earthquake
struck. The available supplies gave Saba Trust team
the opportunity to pack up the trucks with the necessary
items and move quickly in rescue of the earthquake
Saba Trust team moved fast within hours. They had
bought medicine, coffins, food, tents and other
necessities and loaded the trucks with the Trust’s
warehouse supplies of blankets, comforters, sheets
and warm clothes to reach before sunset on the first
day when the earthquake struck to assist and comfort
Many people were astonished and literally shocked
to see that the Saba Trust team had arrived so quickly
with so many of the needed items.
Saba Trust Mujahideen worked late hours to help
as many people as they could. Once the truck was
completely emptied they headed back to the warehouse
to pick up another load which the team at the warehouse
had already prepared for them.
Soon Br. Saghir Aslam arrived and immediately after
his arrival he met Junaid Swati, Colonel Mushtaq
and others with whom Saba Trust have had a working
relationships. The Trust has been providing clothes
to Diya Trust and 100 plus other organizations for
distribution in remote villages. Diya Trust is headed
by Junaid Swati. Saba Trust had earlier set up computer
labs in some remote villages for Diya Trust and
many other organizations. I called Dr. Nasim Ashraf
who is an old friend and now the Chairman of N.C.H.D
and aFederal Minister to get an update and guidance
from him. All the above people mentioned were extremely
helpful. Their inputs, ideas, suggestions made our
job easier and more productive. All thanks to God
The old working relationship
and cooperation surely comes in handy.
The next morning Colonel Mustaq, Junaid Swati and
Saghir Aslam followed by Saba Trust team truck left
the Head Office immediately after Suhur and Fajar
prayer. Once they passed Abbotabad it was extremely
cold and they had to stop and buy hats and warm
It took them over seven hours to reach the first
stop which was Gulmera on the mountainous village
of about 50 families which had been completely devastated.
Below the mountain people were found buried alive
from the mountain slide. After that we went to another
village where the jeeps could not run and so we
walked for the two-hour trek and visited Baffa Khularai.
It was getting very late but Battal was on our plan..
So we proceeded to Battal. It was another astonishing
moment to see the people trying to sleep in the
freezing cold without any tents, blankets or any
warm clothing. This was the longest day that we
had but thanks to God the Almighty Malik was there
to share the driving.
Entire Saba Trust
team takes a day off for planning
The Saba Trust team took a day off to analyze, assess
and come up with a plan on how the Trust could help
and serve the earthquake victims. As the area is
large and so are the losses, human and property
losses are beyond belief and Saba Trust had limited
resources. The team spent the entire day considering
different options. They debated on different options.
Saba Trust team wrote down pros and cons of each
plan. After serious consideration and consultation
with our entire team and also taking into account
what we learned so far from the local people and
our one the site experience we came up with a resolution
at the end of the day.
Saba Trust will
work in remote villages
Once this decision was made we went back to work
according to the laid out rough plan that we had
come up with the help of the local people. We still
were not sure how much area we would be able to
cover. But we were sure that the Saba Trust team
will work hard to reach remote villages, for example
Kala Decka which takes approximately nine (9) hours
from our Head Office to reach. We had one of ourSaba
Trust member go out there and confirm that they
had not received any help at all.
Let me share only one other area with you called
Mahandri which is even harder to reach. Kala Dacka
we could take a ferry or hire a jeep. But to reach
Mahandri the Saba Trust team had to walk 10 hours
through other villages which was on the top of the
mountain. Thanks to Allah S.T. that Saba Trust team
decided to go to Mahandri as people there really
needed aid and it was freezing up there and the
homes were in shamble, people had no supplies and
no food. Saba team went back and brought supplies
to the base then hired mules (donkeys) and local
people to get the supplies to the top of the mountain.
This was repeated with the local paid people’s
help and good old mules; they did a great job. One
of Saba Trust Mujahideen went all the way up to
the mountain and slept there overnight and discussed
with them what else could the Saba Trust team do.
Naturally they all were delighted and prayed for
Saba Trust. (To be continued)