By Jos de Voogd, Caritas Communications Officer in Pakistan
Caritas Switzerland is one of the operational partners of the Caritas Internationalis emergency appeal on Pakistan. It has started door-to-door distributions of food packages, kitchen and cooking equipment and hygiene items to the internally displaces persons (IDP’s) in Pakistan.
At least 2.5 million people had to flee Swat district because of a massive outbreak of violence between the Pakistan Army and Taliban militants. The distributions carried out by Caritas Switzerland’s partner ADF will reach 3.500 families (28.000) and take about 45 days. The focus is on people living in host communities in Mardan.
“We did a very thoroughly assessment of the needs of the people in the district of Mardan between 12-15 May’, said Mr Asad Dogar of Caritas Switzerland’s implementing partner Anatolian Development Foundation (ADF). “After that we identified in coordination with the local authorities where we did want to distribute.”
“Then the process of identifying and locating the 3.500 IDP families in host communities began. It took us about 16 days in total. In the mean time we had to look for suppliers being able to deliver the food and non food items. On the 9th of June we were able to do our first distribution, 90 families received a package”, he added.
Today there is a delivery of 80 packages.
ADF’s uses two vehicles to deliver door-to-door. While we look at a small truck being loaded, Asad said, “My biggest worry was how to identify families that are in genuine need from those out of the local people. They are all Pashtun. But we got great help from local authorities and people in the communities.
“And what if a family already had been given a parcel? There is however this social control: those in need as well as other people will tell. Ultimately it’s the social pressure that works when dealing with large communities’.
I get in the back of the pick-up truck. Surrounded by childen and their father, we drive to their temporary home. The drive doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and we stop in a narrow street.
The family with 5 children has been given shelter in a one room house with a tiny garden. The father is very happy with the room, which he doesn’t need to share with others, and with the food and non-food package.
‘This parcel will make me less dependant on what’s being provided to us by the villagers’, he says. His daughter proudly shows her little baby brother, who is traditionally tied up ‘to grow straight’. Children around us pose happy in front of the camera.
‘There is one family with all blind children’, Asad says, ‘They received their package yesterday, its not far from here’. I decide to take a look.
The area we drive through is quite densely populated, the villages are close together and all surrounded by mud plastered walls.
I meet with three blind children, Jawaid, a boy of 18 and the girls Raham of 19 and Nagakath of 12. They are being escorted by their brother Sajjad who is 15 years old and sighted. The parents are absent, so is there baby brother Mohammed, who is also blind.
The children tell they come from the village Dheerw in Swat valley. Their father normally works as guard for the forest department in Mingaore.
‘On the radio came an announcement that we had to leave the area. I was very afraid’, Raham tells, ‘I heard a lot of noise. We left our house one month ago and went first to another place in Swat. We are here for 5 days, we came partly walking, partly by truck’.
The children look fragile and smile shy under the attention. ‘No, we don’t attend school, but we know our village well and go everywhere’ he says, ‘The last few weeks have been very difficult. We are happy now to be with this host family, who are not our relatives’.