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Friday, August 7, 2009

Latest Entry from USA Staff in Pakistan

Islamic Relief USA team member Anwar Khan is in the Pakistan conflict zone visiting IDPs and affected communities. He met children that Islamic Relief is helping at the Mardan Mercy Center, and he was very impressed but feels there is more work to be done. He sent his reflections for you to read.

August 6.

We were up at 5 am to start the journey at 6 am. Using the toll way it took one-and-a-half hours to travel 100 M to Mardan, but then it took 1 hour to travel 24 M to the village of Qaderabad using rural roads in a 4 wheel drive.

It was amazing to see 350 children at the Islamic Relief Mercy Center in Qaderabad. The majority were girls which is a good sign in this area. They were engaged in structured creative play which helps them deal with the problems that many of them are suffering from. They spend the morning and late afternoon there, leaving in the early afternoon when temperatures reach 110 degrees F with no electricity to power a fan.

We saw some of the boys engaged in 'manipulative play therapy' in which they play with building blocks and puzzles to fix problems. This helps in their problem solving skills and gives us an insight into their state of mind. I was impressed by the complexity of Gharan and Haroon's blocksuntil I was told what they had built. Eleven-year-old Ghafran had built a helicopter gunship and 7-year-old Haroon a rocket launcher. This shows that the conflict is still fresh on their minds and their psychologists still have significant work to do with them. They are suffering from acute trauma now and if untreated could suffer from severe trauma in six months. In a few years, if we do not look after these boys they may be operating rocket launchers.

I spoke to some of the gils who were engaged in role-play therapy with dolls. When I asked 9-year-old Zaiby why she liked playing with these new dolls she replied, “because they are so pretty." When I asked what her dolls at home looked like she replied she had none. They don't have toys, but have fear of violence. This is not a situation we would want for our sons and daughters.

The trip to the Mercy Center was exhilarating knowing that the children had a sanctuary to go to. But it was depressing knowing the misery and poverty of their daily lives.

We then proceeded to the rural health clinic in Rustam. It is the only health facility in the area. Islamic Relief is supporting the clinic and has a Mercy center attached to service the IDps and host communities. Since the crisis began in May, the local population had to host double their capacity. Every morning, every house would bring food to the mosque, which would then be distributed to each house in need.

The power was on for 2 hours, then off for 2 hours in Rustam. We were there during midday when the temperature reached 108 degrees F. I have never perspired so much in my life. One of the locals told me the heat is a reminder of the heat of hell. The locals do not have AC, and only a few have fans, but even power is hard to come by. Imagine how the elderly and the very young (who are most at risk) are coping. The generator in the hospital was not working because they needed $125 for the battery. It didn't make a difference to have the medical equipment, because the rural hospital serving nearly 30,000 people has no electrical medical equipment.

We were told one of the biggest problems are the lack of female doctors. Many women will not get treatment unless they see a female doctor. This may result in death if there disease is not treated in time. The problem is finding female doctors to work in rural areas, even if they are paid more. This is a long term problem. It's a reminder that we can not always write a check to fix every problem.


  1. Keep up the good work. Nadeem

  2. dude, you are doing an amazing job, may God bless you. We need to talk. please email. Are you the same guy who was in Pindi with that family?