At least 60 bags of blood and one million rupees arrived in donations for the survivors of the Abbas Town bomb blasts barely 24 hours after the terrorists struck. Fortunately though, by Monday night all needs were met.
“We are silent majority and fighting a peaceful war against terrorists,” commented Noman Lakhani who came to the camp set up by the National Hematology Centre and Blood Bank at Imambargah Yasrab Monday afternoon. After donating blood, he opened his wallet. “My friends from America have also requested me to donate money,” he explained.
The Aga Khan University Hospital took in the most number of patients, 100 initially. Six people died and 60 are still admitted. Three surgeries were scheduled Monday, said their spokesperson Rasool Sarang. Up to five people were standing by to donate blood for every patient, he said, adding that thus there was no shortage as such.
Nonetheless, Dr Hina Hasan and Dr Farrukh from the National Hematology Centre said that they would be able to help anyone who approached them as the response had been good. (Contact 021 35224318-9). News of their blood camp spread via text message and social media. “There was a tremendous response from our youth,” said Dr Hina. “It is a good omen that our youth is energetic and wants to help victims of terrorism.”
It wasn’t just young people but even house workers who turned up at the camp. “I don’t know who has been targeted and why, but I know one thing, that the people of Karachi are victims,” said Shaukat Ali who hails from Sanghar but works in Karachi. “I am not interested in who will be given my blood - a Sunni or Shia.”
The general sentiment was of an outpouring of desire to help in whatever way possible, no matter how small. In fact, some teenagers and underweight girls were disappointed when they were told they could not donate blood. “I wish I could help,” sighed Anum Jang, a student of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture who was turned away.
Over 50 students from different institutions gathered at the Teen Talwar intersection in the afternoon to raise funds for the families. The mobilization had started on social networking websites hours after the blast and was not backed by any organization. The volunteers just came together through Facebook connections and mutual friends.
“We don’t know if we’ll be able to raise any substantial amount here,” said Raza Minhas, a final-year student at SZABIST, explaining that the donations will go to Shaheed Foundation. “But we are out on the streets and that shows that people want to do something. This is a message for all the traumatized families that they are not alone.” Sitting on the footpath with a dozen other girls, Amrina Irfan helped by making the posters. “This is just a small gesture on our part,” she said. Some of the posters said ‘With every bomb we die as a nation’ and others said ‘Show we are one against terrorism’. The students fanned out to all four traffic signals to collect money at each red light.
As they had gathered at a time when all major markets were closed and there was barely any transport, the spontaneous gathering attracted the attention of rangers deputed nearby. “Which political party are you representing,” one of them asked as a volunteer struggled to explain that they belonged to none. “Okay, carry on, but we need to inform the headquarters,” said the jawan.
Little did he know that security was the last thing on the minds of the volunteers who were stopping anyone who was willing to help.
“As a nation our memory span is very short,” said Jibran Nasir, another volunteer. “We tend to forget tragedies. This campaign might just turn out to be a way to make sure that we don’t forget.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.