PHDF Board Members & Friends Visit NCHD Mansehra Earthquake Relief Camps
By Pervaiz Lodhie

Torrance, CA: I recently visited Pakistan and as a Board of Director of NCHD/PHDF was part of an international group that was taken to an aerial tour of the entire Oct 8th 2005 massive earthquake area in Northern Pakistan.
On Dec30th, 2005 I attended the NCHD/PHDF dinner given in honor of all the Disaster Relief Helicopter pilots. It was held at State Minister Dr Nasim Ashraf’s residence. Each helicopter pilot was recognized and given an NCHD Shield.



Glimpses of the visit of the NCHD/PHDF Board members to the quake- affected areas

On Dec31st about 20 of us were taken to the earthquake area aboard a Russian Relief Helicopter. The group included Brigadier General (Retd) Butler from UK, Irshad Khoker of UK, Shoaib Kothewala of Los Angeles, Najeeb Ghauri of Los Angeles, myself Pervaiz Lodhie, Dr Omar Atiq of APPNA, Dr Reza Bokhari of APPNA, Dr Farooq Abdullah from Las Vegas, Dr Nasim Ashraf and NCHD staff.
We flew over the mountain ranges of the affected area which included Mansehra, Balakot, Muzaffarabad, Chikar and Bagh. Looking at the mountain ranges through the small round window of the helicopter and seeing scattered homes built everywhere one wonders how the people built them in those impossible steep locations and how they got their necessary supplies or dealt with emergencies. You could see large areas of mulitple landslides, almost a grayish white splattering on the naturally colored mountains, that took place during the earthquake. The largest landslide is visible above Muzaffarabad. One face of the entire large mountainside is gone. It is all gray.
NCHD/PHDF workers and volunteers were in Mansehra district when the earthquake hit. NCHD was able to immediately mobilize all its members and volunteers into life-saving relief work which it is still going on in most of the affected areas.
Our group landed on a temporary helipad made for us at one of the worst affected villages of Devli Jabbar in the Mansehra district. We met and spoke with many villagers. Many villagers wore NCHD caps and jackets. We heard and saw the details of the destruction in this village but I was most impressed by the people’s resilience demonstrated at such a massive tragedy, and accepting God’s Will and wanting to move forward with their lives. This is clearly due to the strong faith of these people.
We next flew on to Nalla Jabbar where NCHD tent medical facility and the tent primary school is active. Our group was taken to these locations by jeeps. Slowly but surely there are signs of life returning to the destroyed villages. Along the way to the tent facilities we saw large number of construction tool kits being handed over to the families along with a specific number of aluminum CGI sheets for roofs of temporary homes. During our helicopter flight over the devastated areas we could see shiny tops of newly constructed shelters made with the aluminum CGI sheets that are being distributed everywhere.
There had not been much rain or snow by Dec 31st but by the night of Dec 31 t rain and snow started hitting the earthquake areas. One can imagine how difficult it must be for thousands and thousands of people with no shelter, very few clothes and minus temperatures to survive. The world has to be reminded that a lot more relief work has to go on for few years before the region looks normal again.

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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