Part II Genuine Aid or Sociobiology Experiment?
When I did my original post, I included pictures of Pakistanis reaching for aid supplies, but excluded those where there was clear fighting. I found the latter too disturbing, and thought they would detract from that post. However, as time goes on and the national and international responses continue to be less rapid and less adequate than desirable, it is starting to look as if the inadequacy of the aid in relation to the need is a sociobiology experiment, or as one Pakistani complained, supplies are thrown as if to dogs, while another lamented being forced to fight each other to obtain aid for their families.
There is no doubt that concerns about aid getting to the true needy, and not hijacked for profit by agencies, governments, locals, or bandits is a valid one. In the course of major international relief campaigns over the last decades this issue, along with human exploitation, trafficking, and dubious rescues of children have been all too real. There is also no doubt that the unusual circumstances of the physical terrain, and unrelenting rain in Pakistan continue to make delivering aid a particular challenge.
No land to stand: Aerial video of flood, Pakistan under water
[NB The intravenous lines in the infants for rehydration: "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink" goes from poetic to life threatening as infants succomb to dehydration more easily and faster than children and adults do]
An aerial view of floodwater covering the land as far as the eye can see, around Taunsa near Multan, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)
However, an insufficient response has also lead to scenes like this:
The photos remain disturbing, but part of a human response to dramatic inequalities between supply and need. Sadly both the terms "sociobiology" and "survival of the fittest" come to mind. Even more sadly, some have used these photos to comment on the nature of Pakistanis. "Shame on those who have" comes to mind.
More often one sees photos like these:
All one can do, it seems to me, is spread the word, contribute within one's means, and pressure governments to make a major relief effort. And thinking of government spending, "Make Peace Not War" comes to mind.
Part III Improvements in Aid (Maybe)--Government Matching and Private Donations of Goods
I was heartened to read this article, about the influx of aid in the form of food, and the offer of Pakistani Airlines to fly relief cargo for free--now overwhelmed by the response of the Canadian Pakistani community based in and near Toronto. The focus has been initially on food and water relief, though eventually clothes, household items, and medical supplies will become more pressing priorities. The Canadian government has offered, belatedly, to match donations through registered charities. Much aid already given through religious organizations will not be matched, but was a crucial response before others were engaged.
The image above accompanying the article reminded me of the efforts of South Asian medical students, to organize and send by air boxes of necessary supplies to victims of the 200? tsunami in South Asia. It also reminded me of a post Maha Noor Elahi did recently, Go Go, Jeddah Girls!!, on the charitable Ramadan food efforts for Saudis, organized by her students, and accomplished with her help, during a tiring by satisfying day of packing and lifting.
Aid organizations and international relief efforts, as well as those of the Pakistani and US governments are now more in evidence.
A beautiful song, created by British composer/singer Sami Yusuf--known for his social activism, and organization of relief responses--is part of a charity drive through Save the Children:
'Hear Your Call' a charity single released by Sami Yusuf [also here]. All profits will go towards Save The Children's emergency relief efforts in Pakistan. Please help donate to the cause.
Support the cause here: www.samiyusufofficial.com/pakistan
Also available on iTunes. Copyright of ETM International. All rights reserved.
[with thanks to Qusay of Qusay Today, who posted it]
Part IV The 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina--Any Comparison?
On August 29, 2005, the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina broke through the levees in New Orleans, and people waiting for rescue from rooftops became a common sight on news reports. Because houses and villages were washed away in Pakistan, in fact the photos below are rather rare:
Photos like this are more common:
It is hard to compare tragedies, and certainly for loved ones there is no apt comparison, but it seems hard to "top" this:
Responses were delayed in both disasters but for somewhat different reasons--though Presidential failings are a common theme. Still the US has a much better infrastructure and the poor are not so destitute to begin with. Also, they had international aid offers faster than George W Bush seemed to respond. Most of the coverage of the anniversary emphasized that there is great improvement, though still a ways to go, post Katrina. For one thing there is more transparency, about current rebuilding efforts, and past errors. Some places and sectors are renewed, though many are not.
5 years on, in August 2015, what will the lives of these 2 be like?
Let's hope their prayers are answered.
Ways to donate, contribute:
Spread the word via social networking sites, blogs, face to face
Share your prayers, and your zakat, if able
Contact your national website of UNESCO, International Red Cross/Crescent, Save the Children to find ways to contribute
Contact private but supervised donor sites like that of Sami Yusuf above
Write letters to the editor, and to government officials to express support for aid
Organize through your own school/workplace, religious group, or social/professional club
Donate time and energy to relief work, if able
Your comments, thoughts, impressions, suggestions?
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Life in the time of the cholera?
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Part V Not sure what to do with your zakat?
*Images, except where indicated, are from: Severe Flooding in Pakistan; Continuing Pakistani Floods . More photos are available at the BBC, here.