The Adoption of Bugna
By M. Majid Ali*
New York

Thousands dead, maimed and homeless. Food stocks and buildings destroyed. Family members unaccounted for. Thousands trapped even several days after the Earth shakes and no help can arrive due to the high mountains and lack of resources. The local Government stands wiped out. The Federal Government does not have enough helicopters and heavy equipment. Untold numbers trapped underneath their homes and schools are written off by a helpless Government which turns to the outside world. Many interminable days later when help does arrive it is too late for the thousands expecting it from beneath the rubble. Multitudes of survivors wandering through wintry mountains face amputation because medical help comes too late and their wounds are beyond healing.
Some said it is God's wrath for turning away from him. But what of the thousands of people who were continuing their Ramadan obligations just hours after losing everything?
Others said it is just a natural disaster that did not discriminate between good and bad people. Yet others believe a more educated society would have coped much better. There would have more awareness of the seismic characteristics of the area. Houses would have been built with wood which is more earthquake-resistant than bricks and a strong economy would have assured greater resources to mount a meaningful rescue and relief effort. After all the Japanese face a similar seismic situation. Their population is highly educated and knowing that a big one will hit them every 80-100 years their housing structures are far more prepared and their vast economic resources can certainly respond much better than Northern Pakistan. No one should doubt the religious devotion of Northern Pakistan but there is a lack of education. Perhaps, the answer does lie in the Qur’anic injunction that makes education mandatory for all adherents.
The urgent need for immediate food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment is being met by quite a few organizations but few have had a long-term presence in Pakistan. And this is where the Human Development Foundation (HDF.com) is pivotal to Northern Pakistan's relief operations. Founded by Pakistani American physicians, HDF is already operating in many parts of Pakistan and is also on the ground in Kashmir. It has many ongoing school, micro-credit and infrastructure projects which are mainly designed to make small communities self-sustaining rather than to be a handout operation. Since the Earthquake HDF has been providing relief on the ground and also raising funds for a long-term effort.
To avoid duplication, HDF adopted one area comprising 14 villages in the UC Deli, Dana and Chattar class area in Kashmir. The relief work was started in a systematic way keeping in view a long-term rehabilitation plan. A reconnaissance team from National Office physically assessed the situation for the provision of needed relief work. On the recommendation of this team HDF selected the village of Bugna, situated 30 km away from the Kohala Bridge and about 20 Km away from Army Picquet/Control Point). However, services are being provided to all adjacent villages of two other UC's, i.e. Dana and Chattar class and no one is refused by the HDF staff.
To aid in the relief effort HDF continues to train local and US based volunteers in medical and relief work. Local volunteers have been especially inducted for an effective relief effort to identify the most needy people.
Transparency is aided by the maintenance of detailed village specific registers that record the names and numbers of the households being helped. Hundreds and thousands of mixed food bags (each containing 15-day rations for a family of 4-5 people), flour and milk have been distributed. In the early days nearly 500 people were served Ramadan sehri and iftari and about 67 patients with their 100 plus attendants were provided with food. Thousands of warm clothes and blankets (at least 2 blankets per household) are still being provided as needed. Tents are in short supply and are prioritized on the basis of the complete destruction of houses or if all adult family members were lost. A main tent complex was set up which was utilized by a number of families. Another 115 earthquake proof houses were arranged through a US based company called Alaska Structures.
A field medical center was also set up at Bugna through which help is being provided to all the villages located in the peripheries of Bugna. The mobile team equipped with medicines and surgical equipment is providing outreach services by visiting households on a daily basis. They provide health services at the household level and bring patients to the medical center if required.
At the camp some HDF staff also celebrated Eid with the survivors. 800 Eid gift packs and sweets were distributed and a very simple Eid Milan party lunch was arranged for 300 children and women.
As most people of the earthquake area lack education and the basic tools of life HDF sees this as an opportunity to make a long-term commitment. It will bring to bear its existing resources and experience in Pakistan to provide physical infrastructure in the form of earthquake proof housing, schools and health centers and the general economic uplift of the affectees. The idea is to amalgamate this effort with the regular HDF program which helps people help themselves by providing the basic self-sustaining tools of education, infrastructure and vocational training.
To help, visit HDF.com or call 1-800-705-1310. Tax deductible donations (IRS tax ID # 36-4184940) can be made online or checks made payable to "Human Development Foundation" and mailed to:
HDF
1350 Remington Road
Suite W
Schaumburg IL 60173
*The author is a CPA working in Investment Banking in New York. He can be reached at Indus000@hotmail.com

 

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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