Ever wonder how precious life is? If you’re confused, go ask a mother. We’re always just too busy to keep wondering all the time, isn’t it?
Think about this. When you face a situation where you have no more a shelter on your head, no more an income to look to as your only income source has gone, you have not had anything for the last 2 days, one of your child seems to have fallen sick and there’s no medicine around and no doctors either, your entire family seems to be surrounded by water, flooded lands, misery, hopelessness, fear, sickness, feeling of being left alone, being left desolate and all of a sudden, you start hearing the hue and cry from a neighbourhood woman – her youngest son just couldn’t keep up anymore and is no more amongst us.
That is the moment when the only reality in life becomes survival – to get that next loaf of bread for yourself, but more importantly, for your family. Then, the only reality becomes what you will do if you won’t find anything to eat, and whether someone will be able to come to the rescue. What if no one comes? When the most likely option seems to be to sit and wait for some miracle to happen – this is the condition people in these disaster-stricken areas in Sindh, Pakistan face right now, each day, each hour of the day – how does it feel thinking about this? Not good, yes? Now, consider this: this is their reality!
Also, know that these people cannot post on websites about their condition, don’t access facebook to tell about how pathetic it feels not having eaten anything for 2 days, and can’t even tweet that the child in the neighbourhood just died because they couldn’t find food! If you are reading this post, chances are you’re better off enough that you likely do not even consider these things as luxuries anymore. This is your reality!
As we were preparing for the relief efforts few days ago and our team members were deliberating on ideas for things needed to be included in standard ration kits, we received an email from one of our coordinators from near the affected areas. He told us that some of these areas have been so badly flooded that there is practically no dry land around to cook food. As I started wondering how we should channelize our energies to come up with a solution, I kept reading on. So this coordinator offers a solution in the next paragraph, and says it’s something that has been tried-and-tested in another area last year. My heart starts pumping faster thinking what it could be and my eyes start to shine brighter. Do you want to know what that successful, tried-and-tested alternative was? He was suggesting we should distribute ‘tandoori rotis – a locally prepared bread’ with ‘pickles’ so that these people can at least stay alive. He also told us these breads are usable (note, ‘usable’ is not ‘fresh’) for 2 days, and it meant we had a lead time of 2 days to execute that plan from start to end there.
Now, as you’re reading this, sit back and ask your heart how you would feel putting down your throat this two-day old bread with pickles? Not excellent, yes? Well, the thing is that it’s an amazing blessing for them. This is their reality – staying alive, remember?
I hope after imagining this and knowing this, at least some of you would feel the same kind of weight on your heart and have moist eyes as I have writing it. My idea is not to make you feel burdened, but it is to share a reality. That’s it.
I hope this answers why relief work is also important right after such disasters. And in case, it still doesn’t answer our question, I have a more important question: are we really living? or just staying alive.