And when the story is covered, the public response often appears to be: So what. We can't help anyway. They can't be trusted. Donations toward relief from the US are a tiny fraction of what went to Haiti or the 2004 tsunami, despite the fact that more people have been made homeless in Pakistan than those two tragedies combined. (Yes, the death toll is lower. But do we give to the dead or to the living?)
For the next two weeks, I will devote this blog to a different kind of story from Pakistan. Stories of what's happening directly on the ground. Stories of insight and ingenuity, generosity and heroism. Pakistan has the world's sixth highest population (170m) and more than a quarter of the country has been deluged. Its people are resourceful and compassionate. There's an incredible effort on the ground, often led by Pakistanis, that we need to know more about. If these stories are told, it will chip a hole in the monotone narrative so much of America and the west has adopted of "Pakistan = danger".
So, here's my appeal. If you've been involved in the Pakistani relief efforts and have a story you can personally vouch for, please email it to me
. It should ideally:
- be about an action taken by an individual or individuals that has made a difference
- perhaps a tale of insight, ingenuity, generosity or heroism
- include a picture or video (that we would have permission to publish)
- be less than 500 words. 100-200 words is ideal.
- unless there are specific reasons not to, please include names, dates, locations
If you want to just tell the story on video, that's fine too. Keep it to less than 3 mins.
My scribe Jane Wulf and I will post these stories here on this blog, and highlight them on Twitter. We'll also cross-post them to this existing wonderful resource devoted to the flood. http://www.ontheground.pk/
Please help spread the word on this. And check back in for the results. We hope to publish at least a couple of stories every day. It's a critical time in Pakistan. The flood waters are starting to recede, but a public health crisis could explode at any moment, and a daunting rehabilitation process lies ahead. As a matter of basic humanity, we should all be helping.
Chris Anderson • TED Curator • www.ted.com • "Ideas Worth Spreading"
Pakistan Flood Story #7: After dramatic bridge collapse, villagers construct ingenious chairlift http://bit.ly/90qOwA
Pakistan flood story #8: Day 2. Video snapshots of what it's like to be trapped http://bit.ly/d4INlN