I've been back in the UK a few days now and yet I still can't seem to focus my thoughts on anything other than the people affected by the recent earthquake in Pakistan. The faces of those who were affected, those who survived and those who didn't, seem to plague not only my sleep but also my daily thoughts. The roll-call of names runs constantly through my head as I find myself flicking through my photographs over and over again.
|What I have seen over the last three weeks will undoubtedly remain with me forever. I do not regret my trip at all, it may sound cliché but for me it was truly a life-changing journey.
What I have seen over the last three weeks will undoubtedly remain with me forever. I do not regret my trip at all, it may sound cliché but for me it was truly a life-changing journey.
It's difficult for me to articulate the things I saw without getting overly emotional, but it should suffice to say that in the mountainous regions of Kashmir we did not find a single house left standing and as I write this plea my team continues to pull dead bodies out from under the rubble, some 6 weeks after the quake.
One of the things that struck me the most from my trip was the amazing faith these people have in Allah. I didn't come across a single man, woman or child that complained of their plight; in fact they all said the same thing:
'This is a test from Allah, and if we hold fast to our Deen then He will provide for us'
The work in these regions must continue, even the tents we have distributed in these areas will not last these people through the winter. In the Surul Valley the locals warned us that the winter rarely brings with it less than 6-8 ft of snow.
Many of the villagers have pneumonia already and without the proper medication, warm clothes and shelter they will not last through the winter. The vast majority of children are completely traumatised, to the extent that they don't even feel the pain of their often very serious injuries. The injured continue to stream in to our medical camps caked in blood from 4-week old open wounds.
In many of these areas aid is still not being distributed and the locals are slowly resigning themselves to the fact that they appear to have been forgotten by the numerous NGO's that are undoubtedly working day and night out of the more accessible areas of the disaster zone.
The stories I can tell from my short trip could fill books, but that is not my intention here. This personal plea is solely to remind you all, that just because the media has given up on Pakistan as a good story, it does not mean that the people there do not need your help.
The last figures that were presented by the media here in the UK were still hovering around the 70-80,000 dead mark. From my work on the ground I would estimate that this figure will be closer to 400,000 dead by the end of the winter.
My personal plea to you all is that you give whatever you can to help these people make it through the winter. I am insha'Allah planning to revisit these areas and meet up with my team again in January. I hope that when I return the families I stood beside only a week ago will still be there to greet me.
My team has joint up with Relief Shelter Drive ( www.reliefshelterdrive.org ), to enable us to continue our work in the areas where no aid has gone so far. We are building emergency shelters as fast as we can, but we desperately need more funds. These shelters only cost £50 and will house a family of 5 through the winter safely insha'Allah.
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