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Unread October 23rd, 2005, 01:31 AM
mina123 mina123 is offline
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Default psychological counselling and donations for Pakistan earthquake victims

Don't let fatigue pare assistance for PakistanBy REKHA BASU
October 21, 2005

Natural disasters tend to run together after a while, especially when they've hit back to back. You're left with a composite image of families fleeing, of parents searching for missing children, of homes in shambles and villages leveled. You can't remember if the blur of anguished faces that stays with you is from the tsunami, the hurricane or the earthquake.

Unless it was your tragedy.

The Oct. 8 Pakistan earthquake was Shaista Sheharyar's tragedy. The Des Moines and Iowa City resident lost 10 relatives. They were her first cousins and their children, family she had grown up with, even lived with.

Sheharyar hasn't been able to get her mind around the loss. "It's hitting me, but I think I'm not absorbing it so far," said the University of Iowa dental student. "I look at the TV, but still I think at the back of my mind that I'm going to go there and see them."

By Wednesday, the death toll had swelled to 79,000, and some observers expect it will ultimately top 200,000 — roughly the Des Moines metro population.

The quake devastated northern Pakistan, damaging sanitation systems, destroying hospitals and leaving survivors without clean drinking water and susceptible to major illnesses. Widespread frostbite from exposure to sub-freezing temperatures has resulted in mass amputations of limbs. An estimated 3.5 million people are homeless.

Sheharyar's relatives who died all lived in Muzzafarabad, which was especially hard hit. One cousin was crossing the street to get to the university where she taught. Her family, trying to retrace her footsteps, found her body in the middle of the road six days later. A 4-year-old died when a wall caved in on him as family tried to reach him. A young mother of three was killed in her kitchen. Other relatives are still missing.

One haunting image someone described depicts the walls of wrecked buildings appearing to be bleeding when it rains, from bodies still trapped inside.

Sheharyar has been sending money to help her relatives. Pakistanis in Des Moines and Ames collected more than $25,000 in the first week. Dr. Saima Zafar, a cardiologist the Iowa Heart Center, and Mashal Husain, at Blank Children's Hospital, are part of an effort to collect medical supplies. But they're concerned that quake survivors aren't getting enough help because the world is suffering from "compassion fatigue" after the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

This time, there are fewer stories of kids holding lemonade sales or businesses organizing fundraisers to help relief efforts. CARE USA, an international relief agency, has reported donations coming in at one-tenth the rate they did for the tsunami. The U.S. government, which ultimately gave $350 million to tsunami victims, has pledged $50 million to Pakistan.

UNICEF warns that 10,000 children are in danger of dying within weeks from exposure. There aren't enough blankets, warm clothes and tents. And here's an appalling twist: Children, orphaned in huge numbers, are being preyed upon by smugglers who sell them for prostitution or household help. Traffickers see orphans on TV and show up for them at shelters, claiming to be relatives. One reporter for a regional paper described a chilling scene at a hospital, where a 16-year-old girl was resisting going with two men claiming to be her uncles. They said she didn't recognize them because she was mentally retarded. The hospital discharged her to them because it was short of beds.

Zafar knows someone who took in nine kids off the street, and no one tried to stop him. Fortunately, he had good intentions.

Even terrorists are said to be capitalizing on the chaos, making inroads in areas where the government has been slow to respond. Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

Someday, as science advances, perhaps the scale and succession of these natural disasters will make sense. But what will never make sense is people managing to survive them only to die later from inadequate care.

At least we should be able to look back and say we did all we could.
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Unread October 23rd, 2005, 01:34 AM
mina123 mina123 is offline
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Default Re: psychological counselling and donations for Pakistan earthquake victims

thousands of children died when their schools collapsed and their parents were reduced to clawing through the rubble with their bare hands often hearing their kids last cries without being able to help. nobody is even talking about psychological counselling for the victims and the media is suffering from so much fatigue from natural disasters, it has let this catastrophe go largely unreported.

hopefully we're not suffering from donor fatigue. please help anyway you can. 10 dollars is enough to feed a family for a week.
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