Updated: Nov 22, 2005
The testimonials here were taken at random and, if anything, represent the milder side of the stories from survivors.
Dr. Muhammad Waseem Khan, head of the Rawalpindi branch of the Pakistani Red Crescent Society (parallel to the Red Cross)
Kulsoom and her son; from the Hatianbala village of Kashmir, at the H-11 camp in Islamabad. After the earthquake, her family spent 7 days outside on the grounds of a school before coming here. One of her children lost it's sight during the earthquake and reagined it later. She, her husband, and her there children (5, 4, and 7 months) lost relatives, their cattle and other animals, their house, and have nothing left. The government has not compensated them (as it has promised). She attributes what relief did reach people to the private NGOs.
Mahmood and two of his children. He is from Chinaari village, in the Muzzafarabad district, a very devastated area. He worked as a driver for 25 years. In the earthquake he couldn't find his son for all the dust that was raised in the shaking of the earth. Many cousins and other relatives all died; his immediate family survived except for his mother in law who was pulled out of their collapsed house, trembling in pain. They waited for aid to arrive but it did not, and she passed away in his care. They spent the day burying relatives and the night in the open in the rains that came. They moved to a camp in Muzzafarabad (city) for 15 days before coming to the H-11 camp in Islamabad.
Nadeem Ahmed (on left), from the village of Rajpian, near Muzzafarabad, now in H-11 camp. 4 sisters, 4 brothers, 2 parents, all survived the earthquake. He, like most children, was in school when the earthquake struck at 8:50 AM, and unlike most children he escaped as the building was collapsing. The very ground had been so altered by the earthquake that he was unable to recognize his way home for some time; he was glad that his family was alive but his home was destroyed.
Standing in line for distribution of rations at H-11 camp...
Kanwal, age 9, greeted me with the traditional Pakistani light handshake, and took me by surprise with her cast. Her name means 'flower'. She's from Muzzafarabad city. She wants to go home.
Sain Khan, from village Fundgran, Muzzafarabad district. Been at the Nijjat Foundation camp for 10 days, came here after an operation at the Pakistan Air Force Hospital. He couldn't get out of his house fast enough. His wife was injured as well. He lost his house and all his animals. There is nothing left in his town. He would like to return but can not do so without help from the government as they have nothing at all left.
In the Nijjat Foundation camp in Islamabad. The material for these tent structures was supplied by a billboard advertising company.
Nijjat Foundation camp... most camps make great efforts to enrich the experience of the refugees. Besides vocational training, counseling, school, social events, and so on, aesthetic touches sometimes find their way in to the program; no mean feat considering the amount of other priorities to attend to. Here, some landscaping.
Brigadier (retired) Yasub Ali Dogar was appointed by the Prime Minister as the coordinator of the new National Volunteer Movement. They hope to have 2,500 to 5,000 volunteers through the winter, 10,000 or more by next summer, and 100,000 or so within a year, with a longer-term aim to work all over the nation and a shorter-term goal of sending members out for several week shifts in earthquake-affected areas.
A small selection from the stack of applications flooding in to the center...
A sharp-looking volunteer application.
The call center...
The Rawalpindi Pakistan Red Crescent Society building was transformed into a hospital/refugee camp. The halls, usually for marriage celebrations, now have a different clientel.
Rubia standing in front of the improvised school partitions on the roof of the PRCS building.
Shahzadi and a student, Ahsan, in front of the same school room... Shahzadi was a teacher in Muzzafarabad until her school collapsed and now continues that work, herself a refugee. Since most children were in school when the earthquake struck, at first most feared even the mention of it. Now about 200 attend classes taught by her and other teachers (local volunteers). Muzzafarabad school will be starting again in a couple weeks; she will be returning there to teach, although with rain and cold on the way and limited school supplies for those students, it will be a challenge.