Sometimes, it’s so moving to see a familiar face. Tauheed and I visited interior Sindh about seven months ago; about two months after this Pakistani region was struck by one of the most devastating floods in the region’s history. I remember seeing rows and rows of tents and enormous plots of land destroyed by stagnant floodwater. But most of all I remember the children. Although some were clearly not in their best shape, they seemed so curious and almost happy to see us. They’d line up in a neat row for pictures that I, once back home, browsed through over and over again. I would never forget their faces. And now, after all this time, I was happy to see some of them, just as smiley and curious as I’d remembered them.
Seven months ago, we decided there we wanted to do something and organized concerts, ran marathons and pestered our friends to raise money for water filters. It wasn’t exactly a flood relief effort, as that is officially the three-month period after a disaster. But it is much-needed rehabilitation. Although most people have returned to their villages, they still run a high risk of getting all sorts of nasty illnesses because of contaminated water. A simple filter can prevent that. Until a proper water system is in place, we hope.
Last week we went back to Sindh to distribute the first batch of filters and make new connections, so we know that the rest of the filters will be in good hands and put to good use. In one village, I remembered almost all of the kids and women (and they probably remembered me, too!) I was so happy to see them back in their houses, as I clearly remember the cramped tents they were living in before. They were proudly showing us around, pointing to their kitchens, their beds, their clothes. They actually seemed quite contended.
But clean water, yes, clean water is still a problem. The hand pump of the village doesn’t go deep enough, so people, especially kids, are prone to all sorts of waterborne diseases. We know our effort was very tiny on the greater scheme of things, but at least we’ve given a few hundred families a little less to worry about until the village is completely up and running again.