Thoughts and opinion from the wards
Heroes and waving goodbyes
The last diary entry I wrote before I left Haiti in February 2010 was titled “Heroes and Goodbyes”. Although the title of this post is similar, I hope it will not be my final ramblings of this trip in Pakistan for there is still so much work to be done. I have been here for over three weeks and only have a few days left in the field before my minor contribution towards the relief of the Pakistani people comes to an end.
During this time, I have seen a simple idea grow from the depths of the dirty murky flood waters into a blossoming project. I have witnessed that even amidst the suffering, the chaos and the panic of not just the affected but those that that are frantically assisting, logic combined with tireless passion can begin to succeed.
The healthcare concept was simple. Firstly, do no harm by not providing a haphazard and clinically unsafe service. Secondly, to work within our resources and difficult circumstances to provide the best possible care to the most amount of people in a sustainable, controlled manner. Thirdly, to realise that our energy and work should not only contribute towards the short term relief of these deserving people but give them an opportunity to access improved basic healthcare long after the world has forgotten about them. Fourthly, to utilise the goodwill and contributions of our many supporters in a caring and constructive manner. And lastly, with the possibility of growing resources and support, expand the concept urgently in collaboration with others.
We are rapidly moving towards the final objective. A memorandum of understanding signed with the relevant government officials has now allowed our organisation to work in two basic health clinics serving populations whose lives have been destroyed by the floods. Further discussions are taking place with other NGOs to urgently establish quality maternity care in these units as well as reestablishing a vaccination programme (for another baby boy was born on our site just two days ago). And I have been further approached by other NGOs to export this idealogy and experience we have gained to other affected areas further south, in Punjab and Sindh. And thus by treating a symbolic few thousand patients well, we may soon be able to treat tens and hundreds of thousands of patients well.
Although it is only the first step of a proverbial 1000 mile journey, an identifiable footprint has been made into the mud left by the aftermath of the receding water. There is a real opportunity created here to make a long lasting difference to the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. But it will require tremendous strength, relentless energy, unheard of organisation in disorganised Pakistan, luck blessed by God himself, generous support and an undying passion for the people that need our help. In my brighter, more hopeful, more optimistic moments, I still believe it is possible.
And the reason I believe this vision is possible is that during my three weeks here, I have met many heroes, both from Pakistan and abroad. Indeed, I can count at least ten volunteers from the UK, Turkey and Dubai that have aarrived after me and departed before me, contributing significantly in their own unique way to this project. Furthermore, another seven volunteers have just begun their much needed contribution. Beyond this, there have been countless wonderful people in Pakistan that have supported us to help us achieve what we have so far.
I have always lived by the philosophy that every human being I meet along my journey in life is my teacher. No matter if I personally enjoy or dislike their company, no matter if agree or disagree with their thoughts or actions, every person will always have a quality or virtue better than mine that I can learn from to improve myself - whether it be an aspect of their personality or an aspect of their knowledge. And on this journey I truly have learnt so much.
I have been here three weeks and witnessed heroes and teachers come and go. One of the greatest joys of living in this world is being able to meet these great and amazing people. And one of the greatest sorrows is having to wave goodbye.
With love always.
(attached is the picture of us waving goodbye to 5 volunteers, including the turkish team whose eccentric company and mango parties I miss already!)