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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fighting Hunger, Disease with Aid, Faith and Love: Anwar Khan

Islamic Relief USA’s VP of Fund Development Anwar Khan returns to Pakistan for the second time since severe flooding in late July marginalized millions of people and spread hunger, disease and homelessness throughout the country. Read about his latest journey below.

In the final days of my visit through flood-devastated areas, the Islamic Relief team and I headed to Thatta, a town in the province of Sindh, with Pakistani cricketers Moin Khan and Salah Uddin in a three-car convey to join other Islamic Relief staff in the area.

As we passed the intersection closest to the town of Thatta, we saw some camps and then no organized camps for miles. As we drove into Thatta, we still could see stagnant water. The water is receding, but still stagnant.

When we were a few kilometers from Jhatti Village, the road stopped and we were delayed by two hours to cross only fifty yards. The water was now a foot high and had gone down from Tuesday, but actually caused more delays. Many of the vehicles were being pulled out by tractors.

One of our trucks was still stuck and was being unloaded by hand. Our workers were walking through water to load the supplies into smaller trucks.

We arrived at Jhatti to see people waiting for us in a clinic. The clinic opening had been delayed by the floods.

We did a quick distribution and then took a break as the crowd was getting larger. Some members of the crowd were getting anxious that they may not get aid. People have given them broken promises for their whole lives. We are asking them to be patient and promised that we would stay for 3 months.

We proceeded to a quieter part of the village and spoke to more residents. Again we heard stories of aid not getting through, disease spreading and concern for the future. Locals are still drinking contaminated water.

As we left we saw our water treatment equipment stuck at the flooded road. The driver was refusing to cross and our staff tried to persuade him to cross, like all the other vehicles. Lives can be saved by that equipment arriving in the village.

We left hoping that we would have done more. We were able to reach areas that no one else has reached. Soon tents and more aid will arrive, however the situation is worsening. The road should open in a few days then more aid will go through.

Our main projects in Sindh have begun and we are not well known there as in other parts of the country. In time, as people see our work, they will trust us more. We are planning to work in an integrated approach by working in several sectors in the same village.

Fighting Hunger, Disease with Aid, Faith and Love

I reviewed the Jhatti trip with our Karachi staff and prepared to leave Pakistan. As I was traveling to UK for meetings I was trying to reflect on the trip. However fatigue had set in and I was trying to just make it to my destination.

This is my second trip to Pakistan in a month. We followed the path of the floods from north to south. Reconstruction of homes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa started. In Punjab we are winding down emergency distribution and preparing for rehabilitation. In Sindh we are starting emergency distribution in some of the most needy areas.

I am happy to see progress, but much more needs to be done. We are in a fight against hunger, disease, ignorance and must use our love and our faith to combat these problems with food, medical care and education.
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