The “Silent Earthquake”
That Could Be Prevented
By Akhtar M. Faruqui
Parveen I. Ahmed
Buena Park: The October 8 Earthquake
has become synonymous with death and destruction. Almost 100,000
Pakistanis perished in the terrible disaster and the staggering
number included 20, 000 youngsters. The date of the tragedy
and the scale of destruction it wrought are vividly recalled
by Pakistanis at home and abroad. Yet, not many of us have
heard of the “silent earthquake” that claims 40,000
young lives every month – twice the number of youngsters
who died on October 8, 2005!
The silent earthquake is not a transitory or passing phenomenon.
It is a catastrophic happening that haunts Pakistan and continues
every passing day to claim precious lives. Annually, the number
of young Pakistanis who die of malnutrition, lack of vaccination,
polluted water, poor health facilities, etc approximates 480,000,
a truly colossal figure!
These statistics were furnished by Dr Shenaz Khan, Co-Chairperson,
Human Development Foundation of USA, at the Eid-Earthquake
Fundraising Dinner at the Buena Park Knotts Berry Farm Resort
Hotel on January 20. “We cannot prevent deaths from
earthquakes, but we can prevent deaths from the silent earthquake
by promoting education; by providing vaccination, clean water
and better material care; and by empowering people through
sustainable, well-meaning programs. This is what HDF is doing,”
so saying Dr Shenaz defined the raison d’etre of the
Human Development Foundation of USA.
The HDF, she pointed out, was part of the ongoing earthquake
relief operations “but we are doing more than that.”
She described at length the various schemes that the HDF has
successfully introduced in various parts of Pakistan to improve
the lot of the country’s less privileged segment of
A “quick overview” of what the “HDF had
been doing in the post-quake period” was also given
by Bill Breedlone, Executive Director, HDF.
Begum performs at the function
and Mrs. Abu Baker Vakil
Gajiani and CG Jadmani
Speaking on the occasion, Consul
General Noor Mohammad Jadmani thanked the gathering for its
support to the government’s quake relief measures. He
spoke of the daunting task of reconstruction that lay ahead
and described in detail the sponsorship schemes that individuals
and organizations could choose from for playing their role
in the reconstruction work.
The projects have been posted on the website of the Earthquake
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) responsible
for the implementation of the rescue effort. He described
the sponsorship program in some detail. “It will mainly
focus on the private housing sector, health care sector, and
education sector due to their high priority in the reconstruction
Prominent community members at the HDF
Mr Jadmani also made a reference
to the cost estimates. “To help potential sponsors in
easy identification of target areas and formulation of sponsorship
donation, an arbitrary packaging of housing, health and education
sectors has been done, These packages contain information
like number of units required at various levels (villages,
tehsil, district etc) , rough cost of each unit, overall cost
indicators. This information is available on the ERRA website.
“All potential sponsors/donors will be encouraged to
register with ERRA for central coordination and data base
management requirements,” the Consul General informed.
right: Sarfaraz Khan’s mother, Rehana Qamar, Mrs
Mufti, Mr Mufti, Sarfaraz Khan,
Zubair Rawda and Zaheer Babar
The fundraiser saw a well-knit
community opening its heart to support the HDF relief operations
for a noble cause. The mood was one of conviviality, mutual
respect and belonging. The HDF team comprising Dr Yasmin Qasim,
Dr Zahida Bhutto, Dr Sanobar Baig, Dr Naseem Malik, Dr Parveen
Imdad Ahmed, Sofia Altaf, Abu Bakr Vakil, Yasmeen Hussain,
Mazhar Hussain and Saghir Aslam, visibly took pains to ensure
that the invitees enjoyed the evening.
The compere, Dr Parveen Imdad Ahmed, appeared confident and
self-assured and had an enlivening influence on the proceedings.
Munni Begum’s performance was scintillating and greatly
enjoyed by the appreciative audience. The food by Shahnawaz
was delicious as usual.