Go ahead and fail me, but I have to go help the flood survivors

Published: August 21, 2010
A panoramic view of lands belonging to the Soomro family in Shikarpur. PHOTO: COURTESY IVSAA STUDENTS

A panoramic view of lands belonging to the Soomro family in Shikarpur. PHOTO: COURTESY IVSAA STUDENTS

KARACHI: For a group of five students from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, not going to help with relief and rescue work was not an option even though the semester had started.

“If you want to fail me, go ahead,” commented one of them, who had decided that his education would be incomplete anyway if he did not go.

It was no ordinary trip. Despite disapproving looks, these boys and one teacher, decided that nothing was bigger than doing their bit for the flood survivors in upper Sindh.

They packed into two cars and left Karachi last Thursday. Their destination was Shikarpur, where a container they had sent separately, was to arrive the next day. The plan of action was to chase the container, deliver the goods properly and return to Karachi. But as with all plans, it looked great on paper and in their heads. What they were not prepared for was the emotional ride.

“I belong to Sukkur,” said one of the students. (None of them want to be named). “Looking at these people and what they are going though makes me wonder even now, when I feel like we did something, that there is still a lot to be done.”

The boys reached Qazi Ahmed, an hour away from Karachi, in time for iftar on Thursday. Sustenance and an hour’s break from driving was all that the gang needed to keep going. Their next stop was Sukkur, where a bed and breakfast awaited.

For another student, a live visual of the Sukkur Barrage, swelling with water and spilling torrents, was an overwhelming picture. Looking at it, he says that he remembers fear, the kind that is likely to make you feel helpless and vulnerable as you realise what the magnitude of such a force truly is.

The next morning, it was all action. The students headed towards Shikarpur and reached the district before their container. After a couple of hours, the container arrived and the boys, with the help of a benefactor who offered them his warehouse, started unloading.

The process of distributing the relief was a somewhat tricky one. The boys, who were initially looking for camps that, in fact, did not exist, realised that the best way to go about distributing was to do just that, distribute.

That in itself, however, was not easy. The work was often interrupted by riots over food and fights among the people who did not have enough to eat. “We hired Suzukis in Shikarpur. The kind that are closed all around, but open from the back. Whenever we stopped, someone would get inside,” said one student, who added that a lot of people injured themselves in the process. To them, it did not matter, as long as they could get some food in the process.

“We tried to give the food to the women. In Sindh, the lady of the house is more active,” said one student. “She runs the house and is even involved in construction and repair work, so it seemed only right to give things to women. But the men would grab at them and the children would get in the way.”

The boys even tried to make their way to Jacobabad to distribute food. But they realised that people were leaving the city, and that the areas around it resembled ghost towns. They decided instead to give away food to people on the roads, in tractors or in shantytowns.

The boys remained in Shikarpur for two days, during which time they also decided to visit Rahimabad. It was here that they saw the most destruction – dead animals, knee-deep water and desolation. In the middle of it all floated a haveli – half drowned and eerily empty – that belonged to the family of Hamir Soomro, an IVSAA faculty member.

The journey back was set for Sunday. They left in the afternoon, and reached Karachi towards midnight after another stopover at Qazi Ahmed.

For them, the journey was everything. It was an eye-opener. They appreciated the way people had jumped to help. Some had gone so far as to donate Oreos and bottled water from Dubai that cost Rs400 a bottle.

These students are now in the process of setting up a weekly run. They want to send a consignment of supplies every weekend. Money is the best way to help, and that if people trust what they are doing, they should offer financial assistance, instead of supplies.

“When we buy in bulk, we are getting more for less money. We don’t need Basmati, we need cheaper rice. These people are dying of hunger. Top quality is not the concern here.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Dr Omar Farooq Khan
    Aug 21, 2010 - 11:36AM

    Excellent work by Pakistani youth! I find my self proud of the fact that these people have stepped in at the cost of even personal loss (failing their exams).

    The only thing missing here is the address/venue and details where people can donate money & supplies to further strengthen their activites.

    For it is true that not all of us can head out to the flood affected areas but we can pitch in by donating cash & supplies to help our fellow countrymen.

    So hats off to our young heroes, but please LET US KNOW WHERE YOU ARE, so that we can get you the much required support (cash & supplies) you need to carry on your work.

    Good luck & Godspeed! Recommend

  • Sakina
    Aug 21, 2010 - 1:29PM

    Thumps up! great job! very inspiring!Recommend

  • Umayr Masud
    Aug 21, 2010 - 2:16PM

    Heartwarming .. Good luck guys Recommend

  • Alina
    Aug 21, 2010 - 2:37PM

    On one hand is young men beating 2 kids to death on the street in sialkot, one the other hand it’s these young men putting their best efforts to help fellow pakistanis. If only we have more people like these students in our country, it would be a better place to live in..Recommend

  • =)
    Aug 21, 2010 - 8:41PM
  • ek
    Aug 22, 2010 - 5:23PM

    Dr Omar Farooq Khan, below is the link of the IVS support prg you can contact Dabeer Hemani 923333972676 for further details


  • Fahad Asadullah
    Aug 22, 2010 - 6:14PM

    Dr Omar Farooq Khan SB

    You can send us the cash directly to IVSAA, ST 33, Block 2, Scheme 5 Clifton karachi 75600.

    It would be ideal to send it in the name of Dabeer Himani, who is the president of the student council and an active member and also the individual in charge of getting more than 300 students active in helping him 3 days a week to supply food/ survival packages to over 500-1000 families each weekend.

    May God bless everyone who can contribute. Recommend

  • Mahwish Khan
    Aug 22, 2010 - 8:02PM

    Dabeer Hemani*Recommend

  • Ali Akhai
    Aug 22, 2010 - 9:34PM

    A remarkable effort!!! A round of applause! The most amazing thing that struck me was these kids not giving their names. Have come across various people who no doubt are doing an excellent work but are taking this as an opportunity to make contacts and fame for them. This article informs us about the experience of these students that they went out of way to help the flood victims but they did not want fame. I would appreciate if some form of contact could be given to for donations.Recommend

  • Mahwish Khan
    Aug 22, 2010 - 10:04PM

    Dabeer Hemani 923333972676
    Adnan Adil 923462774709

    Dabeer Hemani is at Sehwan at the moment delivering the donations. He will be back on 25th August, 2010. Meanwhile please contact Adnan Adil.

  • Nimra Safeer
    Aug 22, 2010 - 10:44PM

    Jazak Allah for your help guys ! Really proud of you ! One silly suggestion here. Just collect rs 5000 from each student from your college and im sure youll be able to buy a lot of supplies. why am i mentioning such a big amount? its coz not everyone can afford to study in IVS right? so im sure whoever is studying in IVS can manage to donate this much. Dont take me wrong here, im just giving an idea. Coz frankly when it comes to Art Supplies, thousands of rupees go out our pockets in seconds. Phir yeh tho ‘Flood Victims’ hein bhaee. :) Masha Allah IVS has always been very enthusiastic during such crisis, i just wish they also understand why these crisis are taking place over and over again ! JazakumUllahRecommend

  • Mina
    Aug 23, 2010 - 5:11AM

    Commendable effort by the IVS guys! may they be rewarded.
    this is the kind of effort we need to put in..make it a personal responsibility. Recommend

  • Hasan
    Aug 23, 2010 - 1:55PM

    i also want to go plz take me wodu 0321-8734151Recommend

  • samima shah
    Aug 23, 2010 - 3:50PM

    g8 job …. we r proud of uRecommend

  • Anam Haleem
    Aug 24, 2010 - 1:19AM

    Awesome stuff guys…. I am really proud of you all…. just keep up the good stuff remain humble and always help out people in need :).Recommend

  • Shabbir Hussain
    Aug 24, 2010 - 2:34AM

    gr8 bro… v shud help them out …..gr8 jobRecommend

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