I have just got back from Pakistan. "Thank God, I'm out of that place" said one of the volounteer. It is it not easy travelling or working in Pakistan. Firstly, most of the population cant speak Malay or English. In the villages, its just like 'itik bercakap dengan ayam' with the hands and legs moving actively for sign language. Secondly, the personality or attitude of the people. Thirdly, the administration. Fourthly, the harsh weather and lastly, missing home.
Balakot lies in the North Western Frontier Province, tribal area where the law is decided by the tribe leaders. Over these mountains and valleys dwell the Pashtun or the Pathan. The Pathans are conservative, traditionalist and supposed to be steadfast to their religion, Islam.
Landslide at Muzaffarabad with houses destroyed
The earthquake that hit Northern Pakistan on October 8, had caused a lot of destruction along Neelam, Balakot, Batagram and Alai Valley. Building collapsed, inhabitants burried alive, dead bodies everywhere, those who survived are exposed to cold, hunger, injuries and illness. Many survivors are without shelters.
Those in the mountains took days to walk down seeking aid which eventually end up with only food supply but without tents. The authority concerned was unable to meet the demands in supplying enough tents and blankets. The NGO's and foreign units had given invaluable help in terms of search and rescue, medical relief, tents, blankets, sanitation, clean water, communication, transportation, etc. Without them, the rescue operations would lag far behind. Even then more help is still needed for the homeless victims to survive the coming winter. Without proper shelter, they will be left dying in the cold.
An old man from the mountain
Pleading for a tent
Let me tell you my story. My team consists of 3 person, myself, Dr Wan Mokhzani from medical department HKL and Tuan Haji Hani a retired hospital assistant. We were under Global Peace Mission (GPM), mission 2 sent to relief the earlier group sent on 13 October 2005. Our destination is Balakot, a city in Mansehra District in North West Frontier Province, Pakistan.
We left Kuala Lumpur International Airport(KLIA) at 1.20 pm on 20 th October 2005 to Bangkok. The flight was quite tiring and challenging. We were given warm towels which was very soothing and refreshing to wipe our oily, sweaty face, soiled hands and fingers.
A few minutes later, our fasting were challenged by a sweet deliciuos smell. We looked into each others face with wicked smile. We refused the meal politely teling the air hostess that we were fasting. We then started to search around for 'muslim face' and saw a few. "Musafir", said one of us smiling. "Cabaran... tapi sedap bau lauk tu ye!", another person added. We reached Bangkok International Airport 3 hours late, local time 3.20 pm (time zone 1 hour later than Malaysia). It was a long transit, 5 hours with iftar about 3 1/2 hours to go. We grouped ourselves with a Pakistani whom we met in the plane.
Mr. Mahmud's family is in Mansehra where we will be heading to although he is a Thai citizen. He lived in Golok, married to a Kelantanese Malay and without any children. We 'jamak' our Zohor to 'Asar and started to look for a 'surau'. We were told that thre was no surau in the terminal. Hmm, this is a Buddist country, not a Muslim country to provide us with a surau. We started to walk around hunting for a space to pray and alhamdulillah, there was a space with lots of boxes not far from the lavotary. We opened a few boxes turning them to prayer mats.
There was about another 1/2 an hour before iftar and now we had to search for hallal food. The hunters were Dr Wan and Mr Mahmud. They brought us fruits and sushi. We have no choice but to swallow the non appetizing dish.
At 8.00 pm we said goodbye to Mr Mahmud and we depart for Lahore at 8.30 pmflight.
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