A drowning nation: Pakistan and the 2010 Floods

[Originally published on Voices of Youth]

It was only last year that Pakistan faced the massive devastation that came with the 2010 Floods. Since then we have had our share of terrorist attacks, economic catastrophes and political uncertainty. Conversely as time passed and other headliners engrossed our local and international news channels the stories of the flood victims soon began to disappear. Now as we move into 6 months of rehabilitation and recovery, the affected still remain in ill-equipped relief camps waiting for things to reach normalcy.

In the realm of my role to help those in need I recently travelled to Charsadda (one of the hardest hit areas) along with 10 other youth activists to provide warm clothes and other essential things to the victims. All of us teens who took part in this project are graduates of the YES Alumni Pakistan which is a program being run by iEARN Pakistan under Society for International Education. Alumni of the Youth Exchange and Study Program participate in all sorts of community service projects all over Pakistan.

In Charsadda we visited a camp run by a German NGO named ARO (Aid for Refugees and Orphans), which inhabited mostly women and children who were in desperate need of warm clothes, to bear the freezing winters of the mountainous area. As we arrived at the camp site we immediately set out to gather the children registered at the camp and shifted them to the special tent titled as the “Child Friendly Space”. This specific area was a place where children were taught English, Urdu (the Pakistani national language) and Pashtu (the provincial language of Kyber Pakhtunkhwan). The tent itself was a place where the children could relax and play; it was delightfully covered with pictures of cartoons and colorful charts. Inside the tent we conducted sessions of “Healing by Caring” to help the children rehabilitate through creative processes. We gave them charts and crayons for them to express themselves through art and took their pictures to make them feel special. Along with this we also gave each of them a new school bag fully equipped with stationary and note pads. The children loved their gifts and were ecstatic about the fun activities we involved them in.

Subsequently we started video interviews of the children who wanted to speak up and tell their extraordinary stories of struggle to the world. After all of this we moved to distribute the packets of clothes we had gathered through various collection drives all over Pakistan. We fundraised all over our respective cities to gather as much money and clothes as we could. In the end we had collected/bought a total of a 1000kg of clothes, out of which 135 families benefited from the warm clothes distribution at Charsadda. The remaining 800kg of warm clothes were than distributed by the YES Alumni Pakistan members from Peshawar at camps in Nowsherra, Dera Ismail Khan and other affected areas in that region.

It’s been more than a week since I ventured on this amazing journey and now I’m back in my hometown of Lahore. As you see the hustle bustle of this metropolitan city one would find it hard to imagine that there is another side of Pakistan in complete ruins, but sadly in reality this calamity has become a heartrending part of every Pakistani’s future. Ravaged by the floods, more than 13 million men, women and children depict the images of the flood in their memoirs. While even more endure the current crisis of food, water, shelter and health risks. But even with the destruction of our agricultural backbone, I bear witness that the people of Pakistan have not lost hope. My people are still strong, still continuing their struggle for survival and still looking forward for a better tomorrow. That’s what I saw in the camp and that’s what the victims shared with us.

But in the end even with all their eminence and courage, the victims of the 2010 flood are still vulnerable. In my own capacity I am doing all I can to help but now it’s your turn to take action for this drowning nation! Will you play your part as a global citizen and help out?


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