APPNA's President Joins  Saba Trust in Helping Flood Victims

APPNA, Saba Trust join hands to provide relief to the flood victims. Dr Zeelaf Munir is seen with the flood victims in the picture on the left and Mr Saghir Aslam is seen in the
picture on the right  

Dr. Zeelaf Munir, President of APPNA, visited the outskirts of Nowshera, specifically villages near Risalpur, Charsadda, and provided clothes for men, women and children.  All clothes were packaged like gifts to be presented to the flood victims with dignity and respect.   Even though her trip was short, she managed to present many of the affected people with APPNA ‘T-shirts’ and APPNA ‘hats’ herself.

 With the help of Saba Trust, Dr. Zeelaf served cooked meals to hundreds of flood victims.  While serving food grateful smiles could be seen on everyone’s face, particularly the children.  The children were especially thrilled to receive APPNA T-shirts, hats and other gifts. It was gratifying to see a little joy on their faces when they received cooked food and gifts; that was indeed very rewarding. A few of the really needy people, who had nothing left at all, received some cash  so that they could buy  their  basic necessities.

Dr. Zeelaf Munir before leaving told Saghir Aslam, Chairman of Saba Trust, that her trip was a very painful experience but at the same time a very very heart warming visit too. “I have never witnessed anything like this in my life.”  “It was so painful to see that all their possessions were destroyed including their homes.  In some places where the homes were still standing, we saw the water marks on the top of walls, marking the height reached by the water.”

The team heard very painful stories of what the people had gone through in the last few days: they were under the skies, no roof over their heads; water everywhere, no home…  Their crops were destroyed, some of their animals, goats, buffalos were swept away because the water came so quick and so strongly that they could save their lives only, one survivor said.  There was so much water everywhere, it looked like an ocean.

 They  badly needed shelters, any kind of shelters, so arrangements were made to provide them tents.  Dr. Zeelaf told Mr Saghir Aslam, Chairman of Saba Trust, “We APPNA are lucky and proud to be partners with Saba Trust under your guidance. Having spent over 52 years in America you are familiar with both, the ways of the East and the West. I really appreciate your commitment, dedication and leadership.  I am truly impressed with one particular factor which is that you, Mr. Aslam, go to the field yourself to serve the people and make needed decisions on the spot according to the need of the flood affected people.”

Three days after the departure of APPNA President, Chairman Saba Trust Saghir Aslam, after fasting whole day with Mr Ishaq, Saba Trust local representative of Mardan rural area, paid a visit to an area that was practically totally ruined  by flood waters.  Mr. Aslam believes that the best way to serve and distribute relief items to the affected people is to let the local people guide us.  “We are lucky to have him (Ishaq) with us.  We got off the motorway and headed towards Mardan to meet some other local people to accompany us, because this was a huge shipment of over 8500 gifts packets.  So we wanted to have enough reliable people to not only guide us, but help us in distributing the gift packs, tents and cash.  We were really fortunate that Mr. Ishaq had called other elders in from the village to meet us and help us unload and organize before distribution. The entire program of distribution was very well  planned and managed by the local elders with the coordination of Mr. Ishaq’s friends.”

It took almost nine hours to distribute all the things but as we distributed we saw lot of happy faces, lot of smiles.

 Chairman Saghir Aslam met a man who was staying in one room which was ruined by the flood waters but the walls and roof were ok; a person standing next to him said, “This person who is staying in that one little ruined room with wife and five kids owned a huge bungalow.  I believe that he told me that his house stood over 15 canals which means 15 good size city homes, therefore  a ‘luxury’ home.  Now they are surviving  on a day-to-day basis in this one little desolate room."

It was a great experience for which we thank Allah ST that He gave us this opportunity to serve the flood victims and distribute the gift packages to them along with tents and cash.

As we drove back we saw innumrtable houses that had been reduced to nothing but rubble.  Our eyes could not believe how intense the damage was, not only to houses but also to crops, means of livelihood and  livestock.  The situation is horrific; there is so much destruction which is quickly compounding by the hour and by the day and the ever greater scale of human suffering becomes more and more apparent.

Pakistan has suffered a triple blow: an unprecedented natural and humanitarian crisis at the highest level. According to estimates collected and compiled by different NGOs and UN agencies, 900,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, over four million have been become homeless,7.5 million of 15-20 million flood survivors have been seriously affected. Those are the ones who have basically lost everything; they don't have food, water, they don't have clothes, they don't have shelter.

 Daniel Toole, UNICEF's regional director for South Asia, aptly describes the critical situation by saying "I've been working emergencies for more than 15 years, I have never seen an emergency this large: the scope, the scale, the number of people displaced.” Toole saw people appealing for help from rooftops in some flooded areas, while others were perched on river banks, having fled rising waters with some of their belongings.

The hot weather is turning huge expanses of water into a breeding ground for malaria, while there is a rapid increase in diarrhea among children in the country, where cholera is endemic, he underlined.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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