Friday, December 30, 2005

Asian Earthquake Relief-Pakistan

2 jan 2006
Well can’t go to earthquake areas due to weather conditions so have some time to write more blogs while I’m waiting to have a conference call with USA. So here goes:

So its 1.30am! on 30/12/05 and I finally got some time to type a “blog” . Penji Mejindarpal asked me to write under the following headings but I don’t think I have the brain power for that so will just type the notes I scribbled day by day (sorry penji)…you may want to get yourself a cup of tea and a box of matchsticks…to keep ur eyelids open ;-)….. he’re you can borrow mine;-P 1. TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS 2. POTENTIAL PROJECTS 3. AGENCIES WHO HELPED AND ASSISTED 4. MY PERSONAL JOURNEY

Me & Kanwal went to UN compound . Spoke to Murtaza Khan from UN OCHA who agreed to come with us to distribute the mens & womens clothes in Maqsood welfare foundation, Chattar No.2 tent village. The people at the front of the camp have family that are in a position to support them somewhat and have the best provisions so I insisted on starting distribution from the back of the camp. Then went back to base and picked up the childrens box and distributed that at Muslim Hands UK tent village (have letter of receipt from them). Took some photo’s around Bagh (shabana with jharu doesn’t know her age, office that farooq almost went into which collapsed in front of him, sultana whose classmate sitting in front of her died before her eyes, cute little girl with outside kitchen, other children, [Osman, pataan was taken on 15th] ) Then went to girls hostel. Not many girls there. They sleep in a tent as they are scared to sleep in building. Also met Kiren from Rawalakot there who works in gov school (good person for unbiased info. Stayed with girls for a while. Met Amir Usman – ‘save the children’. There were 2 aftershocks last night after 2am – we didn’t feel as was fast asleep. Dropped kanwal to helipad as she went back home. We also took photo’s with NATO guys from Italy.

Had UN General coordination cluster meeting in Bagh 8.30am at UN compound – me & Kanwal attended. Got contact list of other NGO’s working in Bagh and spoke to ‘save the children’. Then went to Mangbhajri school unannounced (we givin 200 bags to) to check the situation. They have received tents from GOAL (NGO) but no school kits etc. would like about minimum 100-150 school bags. They asked for uniforms too. Then went to National Science college. Seems good standard. They said they doing rehabilitation academy for free to those kids who come from gov. schools. Went to Springfield school. Their building is badly damaged. Principal says they haven’t taken any fees. They have tents, I don’t know about schooling stuff. He gave a priority list. Went to Evergreen Model school in Chatter – they have couple of tents. Most have school bags & uniforms. Some don’t. Went to the Rara branch as well (there is 4 evergreen schools). They have tents too. Chatter school gave priority list. Went to Qammers . He advised to ensure schools don’t take fees if we are to pay them. Also said to donate materials directly to the schools and not through the gov. What a headache! Me and Kanwal sorted out all the donated clothes from London into male/female/children and counted number of pieces.

15/12/05 6am pick up to pindi islamabad airport. Ended up being a fab chopper ride. Met Erick from ARC and Dr John from ADRA shelters. When got to bagh so beautiful and peaceful upon the hill. Met the pataans next door who fled Afghanistan in this last war. Went to UN compound to register UNITED SIKHS Met jan jaap & laila UN OCHA and 3 guys from UNICEF (mainly imthiaz.) got info and left for meeting with latif (squadron leader school. Told him to make priority list, and khalid chugtai too. Spent 1000 rupees phone crd (10 pounds!) goes in 2-3 days! IT’S NOW 2.30AM SO SHOULD .GO TO SLEEP AS AM FALLING SLEEP ON LAPTOP AND HAVE BUSY DAY 2MORO… wahguru fateh.

14/12/05 went to panja sahib, such n amazing overwhelming experience, imagine walking in guru nanaks footsteps and touching his hand, amazing. And went up the mountain to baba wali quandary. ( Khandhari) Too much kirpa.

13/12/05 Couldn’t sleep all night then when finally did, woke up to a shaking room. Thought I was dreaming but soon realised I wasnt. There was a new earthquake 6.7 richter scale, the original was 7.6! Also realised how close death is, and that I’m not ready for it. Had already heard so many horror stories abt the earthquake and thought this could be it. This morning the plane for bagh was cancelled as there were landslides and it would have taken too long in the car. So I decided to go Panja sahib instead as we had the car booked. I also decided to see if we can go by chopper to bagh. You have to book a chopper before 4pm and our car didn’t come until 12pm. Went to the UN office but no luck as we didn’t have necessary documentation. I rang UN OCHA as Shafi ( my predecessor UNITED SIKHS volunteer) had made contact with someone there who had left already. Spoke to Jan Jaap who agreed to send UN HAS (flights office) an email stating I am with UNITED SIKHS NGO etc. Also asked Shafi to add logo and send letter to UN OCHA as the PC I went on didn’t have word or excel so ended up running back and forth from cyber cafes to no avail. As the flight booking form is in excel. Tried to rush to the UN HAS office before pm, no joy so went to MTBC and asked Lorraine to let us fill and send form. She was really helpful. (the problem is their office is in a military base so very tight security. Sent form but too late for tomorrow so was sent tickets for 15/12/05. called guv t confirm plans. Saw the destroyed mangla towers. Spoke tio shafi abt his plans. Will go panja sahib 2moro…inshallah.

12/12/05 went to Mexcorp Dr niazi’s co. Met Colonial Baidar, his partner and asked permission for Kanwal Nasir to be allowed to work with UNITED SIKHS and come with me to Bagh. Tried to use email there but is dial up so really slow. Tried to phone Morgan UN HCR to organise chopper to take aid boxes but no luck. Tried to register with british high commission but no luck. Went to kanwals hse to meet her mum so she not too worried bt kanwal going to bagh. Kanwal then came and met my aunty so she not too worried. Farooq dropped us home. Spoke to Guv ( Gurvinder, UNITED SIKHS Team coordinator, who was in Pakistan before me) who has emailed response to farooq who will print out and give them to me in the morning. Packed for bagh to leave 10am 2morro again slept at abt 1.30am.

11/ 12/05 Arrived at Islamabad airport 6am. On the other side I didn’t know what would happen to the boxes but when saw them coming I thought do something cos I can’t can’t carry them. I was unaware of the protocols. Saw a luggage guy. 2 or 3 came to help but I told them to go away and just took one and took one trolley myself as thought these guys would try and tke lots of money like in India. Farooq from MTBC, UNITED SIKHS’ partners in the relief efforts, met me at the airport and drove me to my friend Bushra’s house in G9 Islamabad which will be my base, with her family. I rested for a while and then Farooq picked me up to take me to Marriott hotel for Dinner with his boss Lorraine from MTBC who has come from the States to set up this medical billing co. Came back home read the info and project plans. Made my plans, wrote out email. Slept abt 2am.

on flight to Islamabad met paul Slough (sudopak co. –business ) also met Morgan Morris UN HCR she told me abt helicopters that go to bagh etc. It was good to meet other people all going to work on the relief effort, makes u feel like there’ll be a whole community of such people. Although have to say am quite concerned, scared and apprehensive abt what to expect as I know I’m out there alone and don’t know what I’ll be doing but I guess I’ll just have to soldier on and find out. NO FEAR! Funnily enough before I left people kept talking abt compassion – having the compassion to go out there and help people, in all honesty all I feel is a sense of duty.