Continuing our week in the Pakistan flood-zone, Jacqueline Novogratz and I had our minds blown by what we were seeing and the scale of the task ahead. Today, I simply brought my iphone with me and recorded a few instant rough and ready video impressions, all no more than a minute long. (And because of bandwidth restrictions, I'm running them at low res.)First, in the Sukkur area of Sindh we took a boat out into the flood waters. A single massive breach of the Indus has flooded a 5000 square kilometer area of Sindh. New towns were flooded today. The water is full of people wading and jamming makeshift boats to try to get to safety.At one point we saw a railway washed away. The same fate befell a major highway here.The incomporable Dr Sono of the Sindh Rural Support Organization (who I'll be writing more of in the next few days) took us to Shikarpur to see part of their food distribution program. They're getting two meals a day to 60,000 people across the region. Plus 6,000 garments for the women, most of whom have nothing but what they're wearing.A school in Shikarpur was taken over for use by flood victims. Many of the kids were suffering skin complaints, caused by dirty flood-water infection and no ability to change garments.
Compared to the tented villages there was a lot of communal interaction, but also a sense of desperation. No one knew how long they were likely to have stay, nor how they would manage to restart their destroyed farms.Downstairs the mood was getting tense and a few seconds after the video below was shot, the police insisted we leave.Back in Sukkur, we visited another school. The conditions seemed worse. The limited latrines couldn't accommodate the number of children suffering from diarrhea. The place stank and was full of flies, but there seemed a greater sense of enterprise. The women had begun organizing clean-up teams. Still the space was seriously cramped. I couldn't begin to imagine the experience of spending three weeks here with perhaps three more months to come. Check out this room:This room was even smaller and the tale they told was dramatic.In the next room we found women making the best of the tough circumstances and working on embroidery.She had finished one gorgeous table-cloth. Jacqueline bought it from her for Rs3000. It seemed to have made her day. It certainly made ours.
We drove back to Sukkur airport in awe at what humans are capable of enduring.
The drama of the 30 trapped Chilean miners has caught the world's attention. But on the other side of the globe, Pakistan's flood victims are facing an equally daunting fate, trapped in desperate, confined spaces. When the miners get out, they will be greeted like heroes. When the people we met today get out, they will be greeted by no one, and will face rebuilding a life from nothing. And instead of 30 heroic, suffering, innocent individuals, there are millions.
Chris Anderson • TED Curator • www.ted.com • "Ideas Worth Spreading"
More news from the Sindh Rural Support Organization here >> http://www.sindhrsp.org/home/