Rebuilding Hopes after the Pakistan Floods - Exhibit at the National Press Club
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Washington, DC: Beautiful images of Pakistan - through keen eyes and the focused lens of famous photographer Satomi Kato - were on display at the National Press Club during February 4-15, 2013. The National Press Club’s website provides an appropriate introduction and states:
“Rebuilding Hope after the Pakistan Floods: The devastating floods hit Pakistan for two consecutive years 2010 and 2011. The 2010 floods swept through one-fifth of the length and breadth of Pakistan. This photo exhibit highlights the genuine expression of the people of Pakistan who struggle to rebuild their livelihoods with revived ‘HOPE’ for the future and showcase the United Nations Development Program’s work in Pakistan.
“Satomi Kato documented UNDP projects throughout Pakistan in 2011, including 2010 flood victims living in the most floods-affected areas. These photos were previously exhibited in New York, Milan, and Tokyo.”
She also traveled to remote areas of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, to photograph Afghan refugee children in 2005. Those images were exhibited at UN Headquarters in New York and at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in 2006
There was standing room only at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) sponsored reception on February 12, 2013 in the Bloomberg Room. The audience overflowed into the lobby showing interest in the photo exhibit, admiring Satomi Kato’s professionalism and concern for the people of Pakistani. Myron Belkind, Chair, NPC International Correspondents Committee, and Will Davis, Director, UNDP Washington Representation Office, welcomed the audience and spoke highly of Satomi Kato’s work. Ajay Chhibber, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General & Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia & the Pacific, spoke passionately about his concern for Pakistani people while introducing Satomi Kato’s amazing photography. Koji Tomita, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan, communicated a commitment to help alleviate the problems besetting Pakistan. He spoke highly about Satomi Kato’s photography. J Alexander Thier, USAID Assistant to the Administrator for the Office of Afghanistan & Pakistan Affairs, shared his recollections from visits to Pakistan and US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) commitment to assist the country. Mohsin Mushtaq Chandna, Economic Minister, Embassy of Pakistan, represented Pakistan at the reception.
“Fast Facts” – a handout provided by UNDP, describes the four thematic areas of focus in Pakistan: Democratic Governance, Poverty Reduction, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and Environment and Climate Change. UNDP estimated that 5.5 million people benefited in more than 4, 000 villages affected by the 2010 floods from activities aimed at strengthening resilience, rehabilitating communities and restoring livelihoods. About 600,000 people benefited through the construction of farm-to-market village roads. About 60,000 women accessed gender justice and protection services.
The facts presented by UNDP are measurable efforts for rebuilding hopes in a country facing natural and man-made disasters. Satomi Kato’s pictures contain more than a thousand words about the people of Pakistan. Dressed in a beautiful shalwar kameez, Satomi Kato showed her empathy for the subject and the people whose story she conveys so effectively.
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