Following heavy monsoon rains in June 2010, the nation of Pakistan experienced one of the worst disasters faced by a nation in this decade. Severe flooding caused deaths to almost 2,000 people and affected the lives of about 20 million people. At one point, about 1/5 of the nation’s land mass was underwater. In response to urgent requests from Full Gospel Assembly Pakistan and a world-wide relief effort movement, CRS sent a recce team in September to assess safe working zones for medical relief teams and establish partnerships in different regions of Pakistan.
Team 1, 23rd – 30th Oct, comprising of Aaron Chiong, Chin Wan Teng, Christine Cheah, Desiree Phua, Johnny Tang and Dr. Derek Allen (TroppoDoc) was sent for the purpose of ministering medical needs to victims in the region of Karachi and RahimYar Khan.
Team 2, 2nd – 8th November 2010, comprising of Estella Ng, Eileen Goh, Premchand Deepchand, Yeo Li Xin, Dr. Jason Lau and Dr. Derek Allen dispensed much needed medical aid to more than 400 patients in the districts of Nausharo Feroze, Kandiaro, Mithani and Moro.
Pakistan Flood Relief Team 2 followed closely on the footsteps of Team 1 to set up medical camps around the flood affected areas of Sindh. Team 2 departed Singapore for Karachi on 2nd November. We had a quick debrief the day before from Team 1 member – Johnny who shared about local conditions, including safety and security of the area. Team 2 consisted of Dr Derik Allan (who stayed on from Team 1), Dr Jason Lau, A&E nurse Evelyn Yeo and non-medical helpers Estella Ng, Premchand and Eileen Goh. The team was led by Estella.
From Singapore, the team transited at Bangkok, before taking another 5 ½ hrs flight to Karachi. Upon arrival at Quaid E Azam International airport, we were met by our host Pastor Obed Fraz. Due to security and cost concerns in staying in Karachi, a change in plan was proposed and saw us travelling through the night to Paster Obed’s house in Sultanabad – a 4hr drive from Karachi.
More travelling followed on the 2nd day. After placing orders for medicine, we departed Sultanabad to the town of Moro – our base camp for the clinics. Accommodation was at the main office of Ssewa Pak – a local NGO. The journey took us through barren lands, dusty towns and mud houses. Be it night or day, the highways were jammed with criss-crossing tracks decorated with ‘blinks’ and melodised horns. As one of our partners commented, Pakistan is ‘a country that never sleeps’. Together with our local partners, we set up medical clinics in the district of Nausharo Feroze. For the next three days, we held clinics at Kandiaro, Mithani and Moro. Our field clinics were put together with tents, as well as tables, chairs and beds assembled by the villagers. To abide by local customs, separate clinics and queues for male and female patients were set up. In these camps, we saw many cases of severe malaria, malnourishment and tuberculosis. The female and children clinics were usually overcrowded and the team worked especially hard to ensure this seemingly ‘2nd class’ group in their country have a chance to receive medical attention. The team was also able to administer IV drips to patients who came in with severe dehydration and/or other acute problems. We were told that in many of these places, we were the first and only healthcare team that has ever been there.
On the day of departure, we also conducted a clinic session at Pastor’s house in Sultanabad. Altogether, we managed to see more than 400 patients during our four sessions. We also left some water filters with Paster for distribution to the villagers. Throughout the trip, we were protected by armed guards leading the way, and sometimes also assisting in crowd control in the clinic. We all agreed that Pakistan is a hard ground to serve but with God’s presence in us, we had peace and strength throughout the journey.
(Author’s footnote: Before we left Singapore, we had heard of scepticism towards the trip and our purpose in Pakistan. Whilst we understand that the healthcare problem on ground is a long-term issue and not something first world medical aid can resolve in a day or two, we choose to answer God’s calling to make a difference – even if it is for a day. For that few hours we were there, some patients were reminded of their name, their age- their identity. As brief as our interaction may have been, we hoped it brought hope and some respite from their daily hardship.)
Team 1 (L-R): Aaron Chiong, Christine Cheah, Dr. Derek, Johnny Tang & Chin Wan Teng
(Not in picture: Desiree Phua)
Team 1 – Mobile clinic registration : Desiree Phua
Team 1 – Ground meeting
Team 1 – Ladies Group Shot
Recce Team in Lahore (L-R): Dr. Jennifer Chan, Goh Hong Yi and Dino Tan
Mobile Clinic in Sheikhpura – Dr. Jennifer
Recce – Village Meeting in Peshawar
Recce – Remains of a washed-out house
Team 1 – Reporting to Chief of Police
Team 1 – Village Mobile Clinic
Team 1 – Aftermath of Flood
Team 1 – High Fever
Team 1 – Worshipping with local Christian Women
Team 2 (L-R): Estella Ng, Premchand, Yeo Li Xin, Dr. Derek, Eileen Goh & Dr. Jason
Team 2 – Packing medicines.
Team 2 – Dispensary (Yeo Li Xin)
Team 2 – Premchand Deepchand
Team 2 – Joint Efforts – CRS / FGA / SSEWA-PAK
Team 2 – Ladies Group Shot.
Team 2 – Thanksgiving Dinner