Ambassador Alam Brohi
dabbles into a noble endeavour
For the first time, I felt constrained to Venturing into Philanthropy a relief program in the five villages of taluka Qubo Saeed Khan inhabited by my close and distant relatives after having personally witnessed the devastation caused by the torrential rains and flash floods. The people had abandoned their houses under waist-deep water and taken shelter along with their meagre belongings and cattle on the banks of the Saifullah Canal of nearby high grounds. There was no firewood; no clean drinking water; no provisions; no road access to towns. They had to put up with the scorching sun during the day and fight the ferocious brigades of mosquitoes at night. These conditions were miserable enough to melt any heart.
I owe a great deal to this land which I had sprung from and which I had never forgotten while roaming from country to country in my diplomatic career. I always longed for reunion with this land and its hardworking people, its canals, landscape with sprawling fields of rice, wheat and mustard. In 2010 when Sindh was struck by flash floods I was far away from my people taking solace in the romantic tryst of the Blue and White Niles in the middle of the historic city of Khartoum and watching for hours the majestic stroll of this river from Wadi-e-Halfa to Aswan. I could not render any help to my people in distress. The regret of this had lingered for many years.
As September was setting in, I addressed a message to a few selected friends soliciting their financial help to start philanthropic work concentrated in these villages. Beyond my expectations, I received a generous response. I organised the nerve centre of the work in Shahdadkot with a team of four persons in the field who knew almost all the residents of the villages. One nephew and a niece being doctors improvised a medical camp. Having assessed the immediate needs of the victims, we started distributing rations, mosquito nets, jerry cans for storing potable water, tarpaulins and later tents. We also helped nearby camps with medicine, ration and mosquito nets. We kept our donors abreast of the details of the relief work.
In all, I received a generous amount of Rs.1, 345,000 from friends. I also benefitted from the willing cooperation of the PPP Member of the Provincial Assembly Mir Nadir Khan Magsi and the Assistant Commissioner of Taluka Qubo Saeed Khan for relief work. All these two and half months have been gratifying and, at times, frustrating. But we never slackened our efforts. My nephew Khair Muhammad has been holding the banner aloft in the field while my son-in-law, Abdul Qayum Brohi, a resident of Shahdakot, has been efficiently handling the logistics including the purchase of rations, mosquito nets and tarpaulins locally and dealing with bank transactions from Larkana, arranging orderly distribution of the relief material from his house which we have turned into the centre for this noble work.
The ration package we chose for the victims was generous containing provisions of essential items including wheat flour, rice, pulses, cooking oil, sugar, tea, soaps, matchboxes, salt and powdered red pepper, enough for a week or ten days, each costing us Rs.3800. In the beginning, the waterproof tarpaulins were essential as it was raining intermittently and the people needed cover from the rain. Mosquito nets were urgently provided to ward off malaria and dengue cases.
Mir Nadir Khan Magsi has been very helpful in providing the most needed tents. Earlier we had distributed over 70 tarpaulins for improvising tents against the rain and scorching sun but this did not prove a good alternative to tents. As we were half through October with all its excessive dew and moisture, we felt the urgency for tents. Mir Nadir Khan has worked out a good system of supervision, storage and distribution of relief goods in the taluqas of Shahdadkot, Sijawal and Qubo Saeed Khan in collaboration with the Assistant Commissioners and Mukhtiarkars. He supervises the distribution of material personally so as to make it fair and even-handed. With his help, we have so far distributed 63 tents in these villages.
The winter has set in with a different urgency in these villages. In some of the villages affected only by rains, the water has dried allowing the people to return to their hearths and find their abodes either completely devastated or half damaged. They need the provisional shelter of tents till they are able to reconstruct or re-enforce their houses. They also need warm blankets to cope with the biting night cold in a tent.
My friends came to my rescue by donating a good amount of Rs.150,000 for blankets. As an old wise man, I had also saved Rs.80,000 out of the earlier funds. We purchased 300 blankets from Karachi and dispatched the same to Shahdakot. I wanted Mir Nadir Khan to supplement our stock with 100 blankets from his warehouse enabling us to give three blankets to each of the 120 families living in these villages. However, the warehouses didn’t have blankets for the time being. Instead, we were compensated with 15 tents. We have been promised blankets on the arrival of the next consignment.
Some parts of Sindh have been extensively devastated by the flash floods. It is gratifying to note that we have received generous consignments of relief goods from friendly countries. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also received substantial funds from the Federal Government for relief work. If the PPP leaders follow the example of Mir Nadir Khan Magsi in allaying the miseries of the people of their constituencies with a measure of commitment, kindness and humanity, Sindh will not take long months to regain its vibrancy. This is quite serious work and cannot be left unchecked and unsupervised by the low-ranking officials or the political freebooters and hangers-on. We shall stand by our villages in the most crucial phase of the survey and assessment of loss to agriculture sector and proposed subsidies to be given to small landholders. TW