Pakistan quake victims still struggling, one year later

By September 28, 2006

Pakistan (MNN) — The war on terror has been the world’s focus as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been in Washington the last few days. However, Pakistan will be remembering one of the worst human tragedies in its history — the 7.6 magnitude quake that killed more than 70,000 people, leaving 3.5 million people homeless.

The anniversary of that horrible event is October 8th. World Vision has been helping since the beginning. World Vision’s John Schenk, speaking from Pakistan, says that progress has been made. “This is an under-developed country, one of the poorest regions of the country. It’s remote. It’s rural. Villages are highly inaccessible. Many of them are on 60-degree slopes. The forward movement is slow.”

According to Schenk, they have helped rebuild the livelihoods of many victims. “We have delivered nearly 500 buffalo and 800 goats to communities that lost all their animals in landslides. They lost their livelihood.”

World Vision’s longer-term recovery programs include food-for-work projects to help residents rehabilitate the infrastructure. These programs provide food packages to support some 180,000 people who are especially vulnerable, such as families who lost their income sources, the elderly and female-headed households, while they rebuild their homes and restore their livelihoods.

The current phase of World Vision’s response also focuses on rebuilding schools, protecting children, and re-starting agricultural production.

Since Pakistan is an Islamic republic, Schnenk says local leaders have been concerned about World Vision working there.”Religious and community leaders think of all western organizations as Christian organizations. So, they see the westerners coming in, (and) they are deeply concerned and worried. The best thing we have found is to sit and talk to people.”

According to Schenk, sharing the important message of Christianity isn’t overtly possible in group settings. But, they do communicate, “That we love God. And we seek to please Him and that by being there we’re doing what God, in our faith, has commanded us to do. This speaks volumes. But, in terms of communicating what the Gospel is about, we do that through our hands and feet, and these actions speak volumes.”

President Musharraf presented World Vision with the “Star of Sacrifice” award for emergency disaster relief services, recognizing World Vision’s “sacrifice and dedicated service to humanity.”

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