There was the tragic plane crash of a flight from Islamabad to Karachi, and then little did we expect, but there was a flood through Swats Valley in northern Pakistan. Another environmental disaster the earthquakes in Chili and Haiti? Yes, it appears so. California has its shares of floods and earthquakes, but not as life-threatening as the ones abroad. Americans fare a bit better because of our steadier infrastructure, but as we have learned from recent news, it’s difficult for the situation to improve when many uncoordinated actors come into a country to “help the people”. Instead, I support the method of empowering the citizens to help themselves. When several volunteer organizations travel for relief efforts without the organization and specification of tasks, it’s an ineffective and someways backwards way of helping out. It takes the opportunity away from the capable individuals who can help their own home. A better option is to donate to the causes. I don’t condone throwing money at the situation as the only solution, but I rather develop self-sufficiency; albeit I am confident that Pakistan will hold its own far better than Haiti is currently, because of its relative stability.
It was a bit frightening knowing that some of my friends survived through the incident. I imagined that some of my peers were safe from harm since they lived further South of Pakistan, but I only heard confirmation from Rokhan and later two other participants. Instead of simply retreating, my peers, including the Americans, urged everyone to support relief initiatives. From the US and in the heartland, my peers are helping alleviate the devastation within the area by either gathering funds or directly handing relief kits to the people affected by the floods. From what Rokhan has said around $30 American dollars would sustain a family for 4-5 days, and even less after they’ve received their initial relief kit. It seems highly possible that our financial aid could help many in Pakistan, and after some research, there is a plethora of organizations to which a person could donate. I won’t endorse one organization, but I feel compelled to spread the message that Americans, regardless of age, can help out. Be it through text, mail or sympathetic messages; relief is possible, and there is more information at: http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/pk/flood/index.htm.
Image Source: Rokhan Shafi
With much love, Kathy P.