Upcoming Pkrelief initiatives

Sanghar Hamper distribution

The sanghar area in sindh has been very badly hit in the last few days.  As per local contacts the main city has been completely engulfed by water and is not accesible by car anymore. We are planning to distribute food rations of 8 days to 500 families in this area through the Nishat Wellfare organization this saturday. We will take the relief goods as far as shahpur on the outskirts of Sanghar and then ferry them across on tractor trolleys with the help of NWO volunteers.

Medical Camp Sanghar

The next phase of our plan for this area will be a full medical camp two days after ration distribution. For this purpose doctors have been arranged in major fields as well as medicine orders placed for 1000 malaria packs as well as general ailment medicine.

 

We are also planning to do large scale handouts of malaria medicine through Al huda in sujawal and young doctors association in Mirpurkhas. Talks are currently underway to make these initiatives a near future possibility as well.

Many people think flood relief is about gaining a bit of fame. We are more interested in providing relief where possible, no matter who gets fame or political milage. We are proud of the fact that we have worked with nearly all political parties and organizations possible in the past and will continue to do so in the future as well. We firmly believe in accountability and for this purpose have made all our accounts public here.

 

 

You can donate to us here

 

Pk relief is the Pakistan wing of Sa relief an organization who’s team includes Sabahat Ashraf, A r Rafiq, Awab Alvi, Faisal Kapadia, Nabil Jangda & Rehan Bandukda as well as many other invaluable volunteers on the ground.

If you have any questions please email  pkfloods@sarelief.com

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The human tragedy remains

I was standing on the banks of a muddy tributary making its slow rippled way through rice paddies. A cold wind was blowing in my face and ruffling the trees freshly washed from last weeks rains. The sky was partly overcast with shafts of lights peeking out from among the clouds onto the fields, it seemed like a great place to just put amanji and lie down to listen to nature at its idyllic best. Unfortunately there was no time to lie down on this trip as we had come to Khorwah to conduct a medical camp.

Khorwah is a sleepy little village cum town just on the outskirts of Thatta. Too small to be of any note yet of the size that can support 5000 to 6000 people. Most of the locals earn their living from working on rice farms or weaving baskets and other handicrafts to sell along the main highway.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

The floods had ravaged this area just like others in Sindh right up to the Deewan sugar mill which was right opposite our campsite on Saleem Khan’s farm, who not just hosted us but fed every single patient who visited.

The waters have receded with time but they have left behind many families who do not have income streams any longer, plus many of the locals had been hosts to their family members fleeing the incoming water from higher up in Sindh and thus are still in a desperate need for aid.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

After a quick wash in the tributary to take off the dust of travelling to this location (three and a half hour drive from Karachi), we proceeded to start setting up our medical camp which would start early next morning with the doctors accompanying us and would grow as the second team joined us from Karachi. When I say we, I mean our team ofOffroad Pakistan which has been working on relief activities all around Sindh since August last year.

Once the camp was setup and signs made in local Sindhi for the incoming patients, we proceeded with organizing stationary for the camp. Many teams ignore the importance of proper patient forms and data entry in the field to later realize that they saw a lot of people but have no information on them for follow-ups.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

A proper screening area with three volunteers was setup which processed patients into areas of ailment marked out on desks which doctors would man to consult. The last stall was the pharmacy which would supply the donated medicine and lead the patients to the food area where they could eat their fill before leaving.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

We started at the crack of dawn and opened doors to a throng of people at 9.30am. As patients streamed in we realized that people were mostly dealing with three issues: poor hygiene, unawareness of birth control methods and rampant poverty. They, either had skin diseases and were unable to treat them properly due to lack of a working rural health center or they were too poor to buy the medicines prescribed to them by other visiting doctors. There were many families with eight kids or more and this seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the day, as our team of psychologists also discovered large scale suicidal tendencies in a lot of female patients.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

As one of the organizers helping patients and trying to maintain crowd control, it was surprising for me to see that most of the male patients were easier to handle than the women. Or perhaps the women were used to violent herding-like tactics which none of us would indulge in. Suffice to say, in about five hours the camp treated 1,200 patients, handed out 1,500 dental kits and aided more than a 100 people for post-camp surgical procedures, which we will sponsor in hospitals upon returning to Karachi.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

It’s always euphoric to help people but for me, the highlight arrived around midday with a father bringing his severely malnourished child to the camp. Our doctors not only managed to re-hydrate the child and revive him but most certainly saved his life which was hanging in precarious balance. Saving that one child gave our team renewed vigor to see the effort through.

—Photo by Faisal Kapadia.

As I sit here writing this after the first Sehri of the holy month, I am thinking how important it is for all of us to realise that although the floods of last year may be over and long gone, the human tragedy remains. It remains in the form of people stranded in areas they fled to, it remains in the fact that they cannot go back as they do not have the prowess to obtain further loans from their respective landowners to plant new crops. It also remains in the grim reality that their life is better in these alien surroundings with visiting, once-in-a-while medical camps and aid teams than it actually is back home.

So as a nation we still need to own and provide for these people, especially during Ramazan. Therefore please remember the flood victims when you donate your Zakat to any organization and recognise the fact that poverty-stricken, malnourished and on the brink of suicide, could just as easily have been one of us.



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Pk relief mission 9-update

Only three weeks earlier on our 5th Flood Relief mission to Shikarpur the OffroadPakistan stumbled across the Pediatric Ward at Civil Hospital in Shikarpur, the moment we saw the dilapidated situation it touched a nerve in practically each one of our team members and in unison decided to adopt this facility to bring it to some respectable standard of care. In the effort to draw attention to the facility and with the hope of raising funds from the international donor base, Faisal Kapadia and I recorded a plea for help, and shared it with the world highlighting the horrendous situation of the 100 or so kids stuffed in 3 rooms in miserable state.

We were confident that with our generous donors and a growing flood relief fund we could seriously contemplate on adopting this location and make an impact on the lives of these precious children. The only deterrent was a serious concern about rampant pilferage and corruption tarnishing the entire effort primarily the long distance from Karachi would prevent direct supervision in any long term sustainable way. Quite by chance during our relief mission to Shikarpur we were joned by Umair Jaffer, who had come from Islamabad in an attempt to assite in some medical relief camp in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, he happened to join our team and also happened to accompany our team to the hospital. Setting the wheels in motion upon our return to Karachi the project was spearheaded by a veteran offroader Taimur Mirza who initiated a series of detailed brainstorming sessions trying to figure out a way on how to pull this trick off, in the mean time Umair overstayed in Shikarpur and undertook a detailed evaluation to write a 10-odd page project proposal and feasibility to pitch CDRS [Comprehensive Disaster Response Services run by Todd Shea] for a new pediatric ward in the Civil Hospital seperate from the old location, Umair has been working with CDRS since the earthquake days some five years back and spoke highly of their commitment to helping alleviate the suffering in Pakistan

Umair effort to contact CDRS paid off and he was able to source a grant to acquire medical equipement for the award along with sustained support for doctors, nurses and other supporting staff for a few months onwards. We had on our part assured a strong pledge on behalf of SARelief & OffroadPakistan to the old ward with well over Rs. 10 lacs enough to revamp the existing old wards, repainting of the entire area, fixing or installing many furnishings, cleaning up the toilets enough to bring it all into some decent livable condition. Our commitment also took charge of the total setup and management of a free medical dispensary which would cater to the needs of patients in both the old and new pediatric ward that CDRS was setting up this dispensary also extended support to the Gynecological ward as we felt that both disciplines are intrinsically linked.

In the following weeks one of our active offroader Khalid Omar who was interning for a week atKarachi Relief Trust Flood relief camps in Shikarpur was instrumental in helping wading through the bureaucracy with detailed meetings with the DCO, EDO [Health] & the MS of the Hospital to take possession of a new building for Umair’s new pediatric wards and the finalization of total support in helping the OffroadPakistan team revamp the old setup which also included the setup of our medical dispensary in an adjacent empty room.

Umair was initially anxious to push for setting up a right across the old pediatric ward which was being partially used by the Nursing Ward, but in the final negotiations some government officials were hesitant on giving up the Nursing ward to this new setup and instead offered another building nearby which had been lying dormant for sometime and was now allocated to us.

As soon as we were confirmed of successful outcome fromKhalid’s negotiations with the hospital staff, Umair immediately dispatched a procurement officer to Karachi to acquire the necessary equipment to populate the two new wards under his care. We were at that time were preoccupied in a medical camp at New Jatoi, Moro where we saw over a 1000 patients in the entire day. It was purely by coincidence that we had over-estimated our medical supplies for the medical camp by quite a long margin, having taken 120 boxes of medicines valued at over Rs. 300,000 in a truck, by the end of that day despite having prescribed to over a 1000 patients we were left with 109 cartons, we immediately reasoned to not transport them back to karachi and arranged from a truck to move them to our medical dispensary in Shikarpur where they would be stocked and catalogued for necessary dispensing to the needy patients of the hospital.

To put the final touches to the entire project a team lead by Khalid Omar and Sabiha Omar have kindly volunteered to head out for 3-4 days to Shikarpur on Sunday morning to supervise the project, along with them we have also dispatched a truck load of essential furnishings that need to be put up in the hospital as well as a generous donation of 500-packs of essential female-delivery medicinal items donated by the Al-Huda foundation, which shall be stocked up a prescribed as and when needed.

Upon reaching the hospital Khalid and Sabiha have a mammoth task on their hands, firstly they would need to cajole the pediatric patients to relocated into the new pediatric ward, which has been setup but is lying vacant, the old ward will then get a serious scrub down and a new coat of paint. After which a new set of exhaust fans will be installed in the toilets and the finally the dispensary has to be setup and stocked to a working situation. They also need to hire a few people for the next three months all of whom will come under the management of CDRS who has employed a manager and a dispenser for our utilization as well

Upon their return in a few days, I believe we will be treated to a large set of pictures of the new changes in the pediatric ward, after which I can then confidently say that with the help of some very generous donors who have trusted us with their donations we might together stand and say YES we may have made a difference.

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Pk relief update # 2

Ever since the start of our first flood relief mission to Sukkur on 14th August 2010 the sheer number of lives that we may have impacted is truly unimaginable

PkRelief has to its credit the following statistics

  • Provided 36,800 persons with food/ration hampers, enough to last them a week
  • Provided 25,000 people with immediate ready to eat one-time meals
  • Provided 280 tents in various locations, Sukkur, Shikarpur and Thatta which will provide shelter to 280 families or 2800 people
  • Provided 500 families with clothes
  • Provided 6 trucks of water bottles approximately 1000 cases of 1.5 ltr bottles

It gives me immense satisfaction that ever since the Floods 2010 hit Pakistan there has been an immense out pouring of love by Pakistanis and the citizens of the world to help rehabilitate the poeple of Pakistan affected by the floods in Pakistan. On 8th August we initiated launch from our blogs and partnered with SARelief.com for tapping the online donors this was augmented by a strong local offline effort amongst our family & friends who helped usMashallah raise over US$ 142,000 [last tally on 13th Sept 2010].
[Read more...]

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Pk relief mission 2 report

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On return after our first relief effort to Sukkur two weeks back we had several meetings amongst the core group of volunteers adopting a long term medical relief and rehabilitation strategy, however during the subsequent week we continued to receive urgent demands for help emanating from many of the inundated villages of Sukkur and Shikarpur

Thus in response to these pleas we embarked yet again on the 21st of August with a convoy of 8 trucks laden with relief goods of which seven were carrying relief hampers while one carried the load of a hundred tents accompanied by their donor. The convoy consisted of 7 cars and we made our way to Sukkur at around 5 pm passing through Hyderabad and Kotri which was slowly becoming inundated with flood water as the water levels had considerably increased since our first relief mission a week earlier.

Our staging area & warehouse was arranged by Taimur Mirza through the local MNA Agha Taimur located on the main Shikarpur – Sukkur link road.  We immediately offloaded our seven trucks of relief goods into this warehouse and with the help of the U.N coordination center in Sukkur dispatched the 100 tents to a PAF-managed IDP relief campsite on the Sukkur Bypass road

Day 1

The first night a few of our volunteers oversaw the construction of the 100 tents in the PAF enclave in an organized manner, the slow process continued the next three days and we ensured our constant presence at the site ensuring the construction to our total satisfaction.  Returning home late that night to our accommodations in Sukkur we hit the bed immediately preparing to start early the next day for distribution with the help of smaller hired datsuns pick-ups. The reason for taking datsuns was because the larger trucks could not be taken into the deeper areas of Essani, and other inundated villages which were being pointed out by the accompanying leader

Day 2

We left at 9am the next morning and after a short recon of the areas we were planning on distributing in, set off in two teams one led by Atif Ashraf and the other by Awab Alvi to different villages totally inundated by water, this place has been so remote that no food had reached for a couple of days, we were greeted with eager people anxious to get this aid and it is our estimate that we may have been successful in providing relief to over 500 families waiting in desperation.

Next we liaised with three NGO’s, first is a Karachi based school organization called Reflections who has rented houses in order to provide shelter in Shikarpur and Sukkur housing a large number of pregnant women and their children and are definitley doing a splendid job on the ground,  We also liaised with an NGO called Hands who is running quite a number of tent-cities around Kandkot, Jacobabad, Larkana, Shikarpur and Sukkur.  The third NGO also is a Karachi based organization run by a few Karachi based architects called Karachi Relief Trust.  All three organizations were thoroughly evaluated by us and were seen to be doing a genuine hard work on the ground and dservedly needed to be supported, we then dispatched a sizable quantity of relief hampers into their camps sites to augment their depleting food resources.

After accounting for these relief distribution we still had two datsuns full of relief supplies and three datsuns worth of water bottles left for handing out.  We ran a few sorties of water-bottle distribution along the highway passing these out to many thirsty people who under the scorching sun on roads of Shikarpur

Day 3

While doing water sorties the day earlier one of our team members Rehan Bandukda helped identify a school run by SSG&C, they had 1600 registered IDP families inside in squalid conditions. We visited this establishment with 2 datsuns of water and two datsuns of food hampers, we also had over 700 packets of ready to eat sheermal, milk and khajur packets all of which was quickly picked up by the residents of this camp.

As this distribution in schools was going on, two of our team members Nabil Jangda and Atif Ashraf seeing the dilapidated conditions in the area also ordered fresh cooked of dal and roti packets for 700 people which we then continued to distribute till 5pm despite our planned departure at 2pm which would have allowed us to traverse the National Highway during the daylight hours, but this last minute distribution had us running late, we finally got done by 5pm and headed for Karachi reaching home by 11:30 pm.  Reaching safe and sound, this last minute decision to feed another 700 people was well worth the inconvenience

As expected the on ground difficulties included extreme heat (48-50C) and a fluid situation of refugees settlements and their needs forced us to improvise on the ground practically making us come up with a new strategy at every puzzle. Gladly we had the mettle to make this happen on the spot. The overall security situation was also a lot riskier then we faced last week, in Sukkur as we were one of the first people to arrive back then, the towns are now littered with rioters, professional con men posing as NGO’s as well as political misfits of every variety out to make a fast buck. By the grace of god I am happy to claim we negotiated the various pitfalls with success. We may have stumbled but we did not fall!!

Our future plans are now being formulated and should revolve around supporting some genuine aid teams working on the ground in a long term basis augmenting with medical and rehabilitation requirements which we can possibly address

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A battle against time

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As mentioned in my previous postOffroaders Pakistan and the Motor Rally club had been collecting funds for flood relief for the past two weeks in Karachi. We received a tremendous response and with around Rs. 2.5 million  donated to us, we loaded five trucks of food supplies as well as a truck full of tents and set out at 10:30 am on August 14.

Our initial plan was to go to Moro in Sindh, but due to local weather conditions not permitting and the dire need of food and supplies in Sukkur, we decided late Friday to take everything we had acquired and head to out to where we were needed the most.

This relief trip was unique since we constantly updated in real time via Twitter (@faisalkapadia & @drawab) and the entire trip was also covered by GPS updates.

Day 1

It took us approximately six-and-half hours to reach Sukkur and contrary to what we had been hearing on through different media outlets, the roads throughout the way were very well-policed and secure. We entered Sukkur around 5 p.m. and as we neared, thousands of people lined the roads, sleeping on both sides in the scorching heat, without any shelter or even charpais; women, children as well as the elderly and handicapped people lay along the street in the mud. Most of these people had migrated from Thul, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Kashmore due to the incoming waters. It was really hard to digest the tragedy in front of our eyes as we unloaded the aid we had brought and proceeded to our camp which was set up with the help of local volunteers provided generously by Shehryar Meher. The Motor Rally team took the remaining trucks onwards to their camp near Shikarpur.

Once that was done and our iftari eaten in haste, we started setting up tents in our camp site and proceeded to do so till 2:30 a.m. We adopted the modus operandi of noting down ID card information as we gave out supplies to make sure that not more than one tent was given to one family so maximum people could get shelter. What was remarkable for us was that people whom we were providing relief to (some of them who hadn’t eaten a proper meal for a week) were very cooperative; they were only too happy to get any sort of help with shelter and it was quite a sight to see them standing in line as we handed out packets of biryani and water after which they settled into their tents for the night. Each tent sheltered up to eight people and thus with 500 people secure about three feet above ground level we finally called it a night.

Day 2

We arrived at the campsite at about 830am and found there were dozens of people not only from our tent enclave but from the surrounding areas as well. The crowd was so large and their need so great that we had to take the help of the local police to organise all of them into lines. At several points this morning our team of seven individuals considered stopping the provision of rations as we were repeatedly stormed by people desperate for any sort of relief. Still at no point during this very tough distribution process were we threatened by any of the refugees, it was just a matter of clear frustration and lack of adequate provisions that drove these people, they were not begging but merely trying to survive each day.

Till about 1130 a.m., we distributed close to 500 care packets that consisted of rice, oil, biscuits, water, salt and pulses. We also learnt the hard way that smaller packets would have been easier for the women and children to carry since ours were too heavy for them. We managed to split up the rations at the camp site but perhaps others organisations who are making similar care packets need to to keep this in mind.

We then left for Shikarpur where along the way we stopped to unload our last truck of rations into a mobile kitchen. Here they began preparing over 3000 rotis and began cooking rice and daal for the people traveling the route to Sukkur. The rest of the supplies were sent along with volunteers who manned the boats into the kacha areas in Shikarpur where there is about 4-5 feet of standing water and the people are cut off by road access. We also had a chance to go into lucky tehsil and survey firsthand the breach in the Indus minor, which is threatening Shikarpur with one million cusecs of water. Currently the army and the locals are considering total evacuation since there is talk that Shikarpur may not be able to make it in case fresh floods hit the area.

After return

For the last two days the 2nd part of our team MCP Club has been distributing relief all across the Kashmore area. They have now managed to distribute 1800 hampers on a per house as per need basis. Our next target is the collection of more funds for our next distribution mission. Thus please donate generously via the chip in widget you see to the right.


*We have been joined by PYR PakistanFLP and CIO Pakistan in our efforts. The Offroad team consisted of Nabil Jangda, Rehan Bandukda, Faraz Khan, Ali Khurshid, Imran Hussai, Dr Awab Alvi and Faisal Kapadia. For more information, go to our website

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A version of this post was published on the Dawn blog at 16/8/2010

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