One year has passed and the waters of the unprecedented deluge of 2010 have receded.
The nation is remembering the devastation and those millions whose lives, homes and hearths and means of living were swept away by history’s worst floods.
The memory is fresh indeed because a great many people who lost their all are still shelterless and living pathetic lives in relief camps without hope.
There was a surge of sympathy and swell of fellow feeling for the victims of the flood when pictures of the vast devastation were broadcast to the world.
Aid and relief organizations expressed concern because the scale of ruination was beyond the resources of the country. There was no dearth of volunteer support in the country. But committed funds were slow in coming and were not of the size promised.
The nation had no plan or contingency arrangement to save the people and the donors were already expressing doubts if the government agencies would be able to use the relief moneys effectively.
Now all that the anniversary observers can do, among them NGOs and civil society groups, is organise candle light vigils for people whose future has been darkened for ever.
One such candle-lit vigil in remembrance of hundreds of people who perished in the devastating floods last year was held on Wednesday.
The event was organised by Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) at the organisation’s headquarter to mark the first anniversary of the 2010 floods and to pay tribute to the grief-stricken families.
Over 300 volunteers who were present at the occasion vowed to continue their struggle to serve the humanity and those who were the most vulnerable to “nature’s wrath”.
Speaking at the occasion, PRCS Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar said that it was big disaster in the history of Pakistan and volunteers from across the world played a vital role to help the flood-affected people.
While appreciating the efforts of volunteers, Senator Bakhtiar said despite facing daunting challenges, volunteers, especially youngsters, helped them with their motto of ‘first to reach and last to leave’.
She urged them to continue their struggle, because a lot was needed to be done to make the lives of the people from the affected areas normal. “We cannot forget them, they are still in our hearts and minds,” she added
Hajra Ilyas, a grade-six student of Beaconhouse School System, told The Express Tribune that on the same day last year her life changed and was then the young volunteer decided to work for the affected people.
“I am proud that I am one of those who played a constructive role in this sad episode,” she added
Adnan Khawaja, another volunteer and a student of Bahria University said that during the many such situations in the past, whether it was the earthquake of 2005 or floods of 2010 his only motivation is to work for those who have lost everything.
“I feel comfortable in working for my people and I would always want to work for them,” he added.
Moreover, a photo exhibition, titled “Reviving Communities Stronger Together”, on the flood-affected populace is also taking place at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts. This has also been organised by PRCS.
Around 2,000 people lost their lives in catastrophic floods last year, 1.7 millions houses were swept away and 12,000 schools were damaged.
In the welcome address, Secretary General PRCS Muhammad Ilyas khan said that in the 2010 flood PRCS emergency relief phase reached out with food packages to five million people with food and non-food items, 75 million litres of clean drinking water to over 1.4 million people and medical teams that treated some 300,000 patients. The support so far provided has been worth over Rs9.2 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.
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