Quite apart from the worldwide awareness of a disaster described by Ban Ki-Moon as the worst natural disaster and human tragedy he’s witnessed, and he’s seen a few, we should not forget that Pakistan belongs to our EAO region! Hence it behoves us to say something, given some occasional snippets of information ‘on the ground’.
As you know we have two communities in Pakistan (Quetta and Lahore), with some seven or eight confreres all told, at least two of whom are Pakistani. this Salesian presence belongs to the Southern Philippines Province, and despite various difficulties along the way, is a superb example of a Salesian activity which benefits youth of any religion, but is of enormous value to the Christian and indeed Catholic community in that country.
It is also true that our work there is highly respected, by Government at one level and by local Pakistanis of other religious persuasions who are in contact with our work. Other provinces in the region generously assist our work in Pakistan. As I write there is at least one representative of another province there checking out the situation to see how to guarantee a sustainable and effective assistance.
Now the floods. In short, our two locations have not been physically damaged by the floods that have inundated so much of the nation, but nearby areas, yes. For example, in the Sibi region, 120 kms from Quetta, down in the valleys and on the plains, the situation is disastrous. This is the ‘nerve-centre’ for rail links between Quetta and Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad… This means that for the past three weeks there has been little or no rail movement, which affects supplies to Quetta, but more importantly affects relief in the other direction. And every TV watcher knows that both the North West area, (Swat Valley possibly the most infamous for its other problems) and now the grain-belt east of the Punjab are under water or have been, meaning thousands of farms destroyed and farmers’ livelihood with them.
It is in this situation that the Salesians in the country are endeavouring to reach out to the poorest and most afflicted near them, as they did after the N-W Frontier earthquake. European benefactors have been helping the Salesians to provide food staples (flour and oil, sugar especially) and medicines. Quetta has seen an enormous influx of flood refugees, for example, and these become our neighbours.
So, if your province has something organised to channel aid – please help! As more info becomes available, we will let you know.
Please click on Donate on the right if you would like to help the people of Pakistan through our Salesian Mission Office. Thanks!