Helping Your Neighbor, Loving Your Enemies – Pakistan Flood Relief

When the Haiti earthquake occurred, the response in our country was immediate and overwhelming, and with good reason, as so many people lost their lives. The needs continue to be great and help should continue to flow.

The response to the Pakistani flooding, though, in both dollars and attention, seems to be muted in comparison. Perhaps this is so because not as many folk immediately lost their lives, though 1600 have done so already. Perhaps it is because the flooding, which covers an area the size of England and has displaced 20 million people, is on the other side of the world. Perhaps it is because some may view the people in Pakistan, particularly this region of Pakistan, as their enemies.

By way of laying my cards on the table, I am both half-Pakistani and a Christian, one who seeks (falteringly at best) to both care for the poor and dispossessed and to love my enemies. So, I have good reasons to help Pakistanis, people with whom I share blood kinship and whom God commands me to love.

Furthermore, I am an American, a member of a country that is hated by many in Pakistan, and this grieves me a great deal. Without sorting out blame from a very complex history, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more U.S. military war planes delivering food and supplies with a message “From the people of the United States” emblazoned on the sides of boxes and bags, delivered by the hands of men and women from our country. See Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s plea here.

If you are motivated to help, please text one of the numbers either above or below, or check out the guide I have created for my work which provides more information and opportunities to give.

To explain a little more about the phrase “loving your enemies,” clearly many people in Pakistan and America do not regard each other as such, but many in both countries do. Pakistani rocker, Salman Ahmad, who tries to fight extremism through music, describes the problem in a BBC article this way:

Speaking from New York, he told BBC World Service that he realised that people in the West were hesitant about helping, asking why they should care for a country associated with extremism.

“[But] there are 100 million-plus young people under the age of 25 who can go two possible ways into the future,” he said.

“They can follow their dreams or they can give in to the extremists and the Taliban who want them to go blow themselves up.

“If they feel that the world cares for them, you may change the destiny of Pakistan. Not only is it humane but it is urgent self-interest – this is a moment to win hearts and minds.”

Finally, if you are moved to help with the flooding in Pakistan, please consider either linking to this post or writing a similar post of your own. Please feel free to use any of the images from this post, which have been synthesized from images gleaned from news sites.

Helping the Displaced in Pakistan

swati girl
-Image from the BBC

The picture above is from this story which describes some stories of people who have been displaced by the fighting between the Pakistani Army and Taleban insurgents in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. If you read some of these stories, particularly one about the teacher, you get a sense of how oppressive life under the Taleban is.

I know that war is not the best solution, however, in my opinion this battle is one that Pakistan needs to step up to right now. It is such a tricky situation, though, as many in Pakistan at large may not support the government, particularly if vast numbers of civilians are killed or if the U.S. is seen to be supporting or urging this operation too much.

To give you some perspective, here is how one of the teachers at the boarding school for missionary children which I attended described Swat (I presume this was some time in the 60’s): “Swat was the most advanced area of Pakistan when Isabel and I first arrived. Schools for girls and even boys and girls speaking English. Good roads and hospitals too. It was in the time of the Wali who was the ruler. Such a shame.”

Moreover it is such a beautiful area, bringing in a fair amount of tourism money as well.

However, now all the dear people, most of whom already had a hard time scraping together a living, are leading very difficult lives. If you are interested in helping them, Mercy Corps is a relief agency I trust. Here is their current plan:

Hours from now, our team will begin distributing 1,155 emergency-supply kits at a vocational training school in Mardan, one of the primary gathering points for displaced families. The kits contain blankets, feminine hygiene supplies, soap, towels, mosquito repellent and mosquito nets.

An estimated 75 percent of the displaced population are taking refuge in existing villages rather than tent camps. Our ongoing efforts will focus on immediate needs of families in communities overwhelmed by this influx, including ensuring they have access to cooking facilities, clean water and sanitary housing.

Click here or on the image below if you would like to donate to Mercy Corps’ Emergency relief fund which send funds to help in this situation. I think Mercy Corps has pretty good financials too.

mercy corps

I Contribute Nothing to This But Pride

freedom-school
This is a really cool story about a program which is run at the school which is sponsored by my church. Even if I did not have a little personal attachment to this story, though, from attending the church and being good friends with the school’s principal it is a good story on its own footing.