Due to the flood that devastated whole parts of the country, many people had to flee their villages and live in the open for months, lacking the most basic necessities, before they could return to their villages. Photo: humedica.
The diary of the humedica coordinator for Pakistan
Dr. Toni Großhauser ist the humedica coordinator in charge of the projects in Pakistan. Some extracts of his diary can give you an impression of the conditions encountered, the insights gained and, most notably, the results achieved on this project visit.
Wednesday, 23rd – Friday, 25th January:
When I arrived in Hamburg, my flight to Dubai already had a delay of six hours because of dense fog disrupting the air traffic in Dubai. In consequence, I missed the connection flight. What followed was a quite chaotic day with large crowds of people waiting for hours for the continuation of their flights – a tedious process.
I had arrived at 5:20 in the morning and at about 3 in the afternoon – after having checked all possibilities – I learnt that I would not be able to continue my journey to Islamabad the same day since the airline did not agree to change my ticket. The only possibility remaining was to take the same flight to Peshawar I had planned for Thursday on Saturday morning instead.
13 hours and many exhausting moments after my arrival I was finally given a room in a hotel. In spite of the promise that my suitcase would be delivered to the hotel, it did not arrive the next day either, it remained at the airport.
Patience and flexibility are indispensable on such a journey. I used my unintentional stay to visit some friends and encourage them in a time of crisis.
Saturday, 26th January:
After the night flight to Peshawar, I did not even get a short sleep due the delay described above. After my arrival I had to settle a few things like arranging a meeting with our local partner AoG. Some partners from other cities were also present because of a conference so that we had a very efficient meeting.
I learnt that the controls by security forces had become stricter because of the tense situation in the country. In the past weeks, five NGO (non-governmental organisation) workers had been murdered in Charsadda, one of our project locations. Two days ago, there was a further bomb attack in the same area.
With our partner PMS (Pak Mission Society) I went to Mianwali, a quarter of the town of Charsadda. This is the place where AoG Peshawar has built toilets and kitchens funded by humedica.
PMS has built ten houses there and plans to keep in contact with the population by means of a new project where people are to keep cows as a source of income. I have a special relationship with the Mullah (the Islamic cleric) of the village; he was very happy to see me again.
The second phase of the house building project has been completed with 113 instead of the 100 originally planned houses.
An audit of the project finances is expected for the end of February. In the evening, I went on a four-hour-drive to Qalandarabad, where PMS has its office.
Sunday, 27th January:
Qalandarabad: In front of its office, PMS has established a model farm in order to demonstrate efficient and economic farming and, in the long run, generate a permanent income for the people living there. This new project sparked widespread interest among the population.
Next on my agenda were some important meetings in the office. To prepare for the case that our project proposal for the province of Sindh will be approved, a first introduction was given into the requirements of the German Foreign Office for this project.
In the late afternoon, we set off for a six-hour-drive northwards, to Pattan in Kohistan. Since the security situation is tense there, I, as a foreigner, am given an escort by the police on the last third of the way.
Monday, 28th January:
In the morning, I inspected the MCHC (mother-child health-centre) that has been operating since August 2012. It has been very difficult to recruit a professional team willing to work at such a very conservative place. A female doctor is still on the wish-list. Three children were delivered on that day. Apart from a private doctor’s practice on the other side of the river, this is the only health post in the area.
The team running the health post and doing developmental work in this side valley seemed very harmonious. Given their small accommodation, this cannot be taken for granted, yet it is essential for an efficient cooperation.
In the evening, we met the ambulance car of the health centre that had just taken an emergency patient to the hospital in Besham. The investment humedica has made in this health post is obviously a blessing for many people.
We drove further into the valley until we reached Sherakot. The hundred houses planned have been completed and we inspected some of them. In the cold winter months, however, many inhabitants of this village move further down the valley to an area with a milder climate, so that most of the new houses are still uninhabited.
Till April, the water mills and micro-hydro plants are supposed to be finished as well. Up to the completion of the building activities scheduled for the first year, the whole project is financed by humedica – even though the time frame has been extended due to delays with different causes.
At the end of that day, we drove back the six hours to Qalandarabad.
Tuesday, 29th January:
Next, we went to Islamabad about three hours from Qalandarabad. After our arrival I, had a meeting where we discussed a training programme for Islamabad in February. Again, the topic of the worsened security conditions came up and the visa problem linked to that. Moreover, it is said that a law has been passed that legalises email and telephone tapping.
After a meeting with a former teacher of our children, we flew to Karachi and from there we headed for our project town in the province of Sindh. On the way there, we stopped at a guesthouse where we arrived at 2.30 in the morning, after an eight-hour journey.
Wednesday, 30th January:
We went to our project location in Khipro. In the office there, the project manager gave me a presentation about the process and status of the building efforts. The preparations for the construction of these houses for flood victims also involve negotiating with the landowners since it has to be ensured that the beneficiaries will really be acknowledged as the new owners. Strict quality checks are carried out by PMS when the building material for these plain houses is acquired.
The beneficiaries can only do their part of the building work in the evenings since during the day they have to work for the landowners who have hired them as field workers. PMS staffers repeatedly call on the families until they have plastered their houses with mud, which is their own compulsory contribution to the building process.
With the instalment paid, 190 houses can be completed. We hope that the building activity will continue as well as the funding of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany for this project.
On our visits to the villages, we met the very happy and grateful house recipients. Some of them had even embellished the mud around their door frames with fine ornaments.
Here again, the staff team of our partner organisation worked together harmoniously. They seemed passionate about their work and are even prepared to live away from their families during their working periods. The project manager only spends ten days every six weeks with his family in Malankand. It’s a 24-hours bus ride there and back for him every time.
We, too, spent further nine hours in our vehicle at the end of this day in order to get to Sukkur where, again, we arrived at 2:30 in the morning.
Thursday, 31st January:
We started the new day with a visit to the St. Savior’s School in Sukkur. humedica has donated a large container with furniture for this school, which is expected to arrive soon.
Some really pleasing progress has been made at St. Savior’s School: The computer room has been furnished with 22 computers that the school will pay by instalments. Apart from that, some teachers from Riverside (another humedica project partner) hold trainings about teaching methods for the teachers of St. Savior’s School in order to increase the quality of teaching in the longer run. USAID will soon offer an English course and with the furniture expected, the classrooms will soon be better equipped as well.
Afterwards, we visited the “Mission Hospital Sukkur”. Via containers, humedica has provided the hospital with much urgently-needed material. The operating room has been repainted; aseptic conditions for operations, however, have not been established yet.
The number of patients is continuously increasing. The maternity unit was overcrowded when we came to visit. Dr. Sadaqat, an ophthalmologist, treats his patients till late in the evening and is very proud of his new instruments. A large poster advertises the treatments that can be offered in better quality and for free now, thanks to humedica.
Many patients are provided with glasses that have been donated and delivered by humedica. Dr. Sadaqat is extremely happy about and grateful for this support.
At last, we viewed the construction site of the planned Riverside School. For this purpose, a suitable property has been purchased that is situated close to the village communities whose children are to be sent to this new school. An organisation we maintain good contact with has already promised to bear two fifths of the costs; the start of construction is planned for March.
A late plane took me to Karachi where I arrived at 23:30, spent the night working on my computer and on 1st February, at 5:40 pm, boarded the plane for my return flight to Germany.
Once again it has been encouraging to visit all the projects and see the progress made. The best is seeing the joy, hope and gratefulness of the people whom we have been able to help, like the flood victims of Pakistan who have already been forgotten by many.