August 22nd, 2010
Shine Humanity’s and UM Healthcare Trust's joint flood relief efforts entered their third week, with close to 5,000 patients having received medical services, and thousands more assisted with food supplies, clean drinking water, ambulatory support, and livelihood rehabilitation. The series of global appeals from the United Nations Secretary General, International Red Cross and others has resulted in growing international attention being given to the cause. Meanwhile, the monsoons continue pounding the country and flood levels are now at record highs in Sindh province. Reports are coming in on the Pakistan national media of even more villages being wiped out; large scale evacuations and many communities stranded and cut-off from the aid efforts. Some estimates indicate as much as one-third of the country is now under water and 14 million people displaced, lacking food, water and a place to live.
Since August 3rd, we have focused our efforts in Khyber Pakhtoonwala, more specifically Nowshera and Charsadda Districts. This region is home to 4.8 million people and has seen some of the worst effects of the flooding, with a large number of homes still under water and agricultural lands submerged.
Over the past 19 days, our medical teams have seen close 5,000 patients. We have funded for regular cooked meals for Hisara Yaseenzai tent village and have distributed over 600 food packages, each of which will last a family of four for one week. We have also distributed 7,000 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water and 1,000 bottles of SilverDYNE solution (1 bottle makes a truckload worth of flood water safe to drink). In addition, we have distributed 500 toys to 500 children, 80 pairs of shoes for children who lost their only shoes in the flood.
We purchased a large tent for the people of Hisara Yaseenzai to have a place to house their livestock away from their residential tents.
We recently purchased a lift pump so 17,000 people in northern Swat can begin re-establishing their irrigation canals that were completely wiped out by the flood, and also purchased a flour mill machine that can grind both wheat and corn. We were able to procure these machines at a fraction of the regular cost.
With the larger international aid agencies now on the way, and in anticipation of bridges re-opening that connect the country to the northern areas, our teams are preparing to launch rescue missions to Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan, where people have had not access to medical and humanitarian assistance since the floods first struck at the beginning of August. Shine Humanity also has a medical team on its way to Sukkur, in the south where flood waters are reaching new peaks. Over 150 villages have been destroyed in Sindh province, and some 1,200 km of road has been washed away. We will be using road transportation where feasible, and airlifting our teams into the more hard to reach areas near Skardu in the north.
Here is a series of field reports from the medical teams. Some of the news you will read is heart-wrenching. Our doctors are treating water borne illnesses, dealing with hunger and malnutrition and seeing an increase in the number of cases of anxiety and depression.
Date: Saturday, 14 August
Village: Mian Sahib Garhi
Like all of the areas affected by the flood waters, Mian Sahib Garhi has no drinkable water and has not had electricity for the past 14 days. Our medical teams saw a total of 101 patients, primarily with respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis and skin diseases. There were also cases of malaria and typhoid seen. We vaccinated children and adults against cholera, typhoid and tetanus and packed up the camp at noon.
Date: Saturday, 14 August
Village: Gul Abad
Our team treated 76 patients among the displaced people staying at the government primary school for girls in Gul Abad. Again, the primary issues here were skin diseases and dehydration, followed by gastroenteritis and respiratory tract infections.
Report prepared by Dr. Amna Haleema, Medical Officer, UM Healthcare Trust
Date: 13 Aug 2010
Place: Villages Totakai & Gunbatay,
Today’s camp was directed at medical and relief activities in Village Totakai which lies in District Charsadda. Charsadda has been the worst hit district in the recent monsoon floods. According to government sources 60 per cent of the local population has been affected, putting the figure at around 700,000 people. Part of the reason for theses staggering numbers is Charsadda’s geography. The district is flanked by three main rivers; Kabul River, Swat River and River Jindi. These rivers then merge south of the district and join the Indus river. Although this makes it one of the best irrigated and most fertile areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, it also renders the region vulnerable to flood waters. River Jindi particularly, broke its banks and affected a large area around Tangi Tehsil.
There has not been much improvement in the situation yet. People are still awaiting relief even two weeks after the floods caused massive devastation to their houses and crops. Although flood waters have receded, it will take a long time to rebuild the area and rehouse the displaced people. Most of the scenic villages along the river banks now lie in ruins.
UM Healthcare and Shine Humanity joined forces to provide relief to yet another village in Charsadda, called Totakai. It lies in Tehsil Tangi, which was particularly hard-hit. Many houses and boundary walls lay in ruins. We left early and had arrived at the camp site by 9 in the morning. The camp was at the place of a local elder, M Zeb Khan. His house is situated in the center of the village Totakai and refugees living with host families were quickly informed of our arrival. By noon we had treated 118 patients, mostly women and children. Among the women a significant number were suffering from anxiety and stress.
The loss of loved ones and property has also increased the incidence of depression here. We provided counseling to them, suggesting ways to focus on rebuilding activities and to help maintain the health and hygiene of their dependents. The support of local community is also helping in giving affected people a sense of hope amid the grief and devastation. Most of the children were suffering from gastroenteritis and respiratory tract infections, as they are more vulnerable to these illnesses in monsoon season.
There were also many children who were anemic, depicting the poor health status and inadequate nutrition of this population, even before the floods. Our team also vaccinated the patients against Tetanus and distributed toys among the children.
The villagers are trying to cope with a lot of stress and difficulties. They keep scavenging in mud and flood water to look for any belongings that were spared. Thus the incidence of dermatitis and scabies is on the rise and we heavily prescribed skin lotions and emollients to them. Food is scarce and it’s the month of Ramadan. I asked a frail, elderly lady why she was fasting in spite of her illness. She replied, “There’s hardly any food to feed our children and there’s no help from the administration. I might as well fast so my grandchildren can have more to eat.”
We had anticipated this by our experience at previous camps and now we carry extra rations of bottled water and water purification tablets at each camp. We had brought along a truckload of water and milk and food items to be distributed. Alongside our medical camp, one of UM Healthcare’s Trustees, Mr. Zahid Khan supervised the relief goods distribution to the locals, with help from local school teachers in record-keeping. A local Councillor visited our camp during the day and appreciated efforts of the organizations in bringing help to their area.
On our way back the road was blocked temporarily by a group of protesters demanding he government to intervene and send help quickly to flood victims. We observed the River Jindi level had risen again since morning. This regular surging of the rivers is one reason why the people still can not return for rebuilding their homes, for fear of a second wave of floods.
Report prepared by Dr. Qasim Nasr, Medical Officer, UM Healthcare Trust
A Word from our Volunteer
Shine Humanity received the following note of appreciation from Zamena Alibhai,a volunteer who recently worked out of the camp in Charsadda.
“The pleasure was all mine to witness such unselfish and untiring dedication towards such a worthy effort by you and your team. It was really a surreal experience and you all really blew me away. What I have learned from you all will be embedded in me forever. I am a changed person since this trip. Each person that I have met in your team has taught me something valuable. The actual experience of helping out with the flood victims had a place of its own in waking me up to reality and humbling me, but just as importantly, working alongside Todd Shea (Shine Humanity COO) and his sleep-deprived and at times, food-deprived team members was phenomenal.
“Thank you so much for taking me as a part of your 'family' and offering me such generous hospitality in ensuring that I 'fit-in' and making me comfortable. I look forward to working with you in the future. God bless you all and may He give you all long lives so that the rest of humanity can benefit from you for as long as they can. You guys are amazing!”
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