Naureen Aqueel

Flood rehabilitation: Keeping the spirit alive four months on

Posted on: December 8, 2010

A poster designed by the FLP. PHOTO COURTESY: HIRA S MALIK

Published in The Express Tribune – city, December 10, 2010.

‘No more talk, Get to work’ is the motto of the Future Leaders of Pakistan (FLP). While flood survivors and their woes have slipped into the background where it comes to media coverage and volunteer work, FLP is a group of students that still remembers and realises the extent of their responsibility.

They have been working for the cause ever since the floods started nearly four months ago.

The organisation, collaborating with Naya Jeevan Foundation for its maternal health programme, has adopted 12 relief camps, where they provided shelter, rations, healthcare and education to the flood survivors. Four of these camps have been shifted back to their hometowns in Jaffarabad.

But for FLP, the mission doesn’t end when the survivors return home. “We are looking into sustainable housing and providing a network of hospitals in their areas,” said Sana Saleem, a blogger and student working as the Sindh project coordinator. Providing basic healthcare and health awareness back home is also something the group considers an essential part of rehabilitation. Educating survivors on how to identify symptoms and diseases that warrant a visit to the hospital is considered crucial.

Education is another goal high on the agenda of this enthusiastic group. Sana talked about the eagerness of the flood survivors for learning. Many survivors came to us saying they want schools rather than houses in their areas, she told The Express Tribune.

The group is currently working out the cost of adopting schools in some of the flood-hit towns.

Survivors in the remaining eight camps adopted by this group in Jamshoro and Thatta will also soon be shifting back. Each of the camps houses 150 to 200 families and each family has approximately seven to 10 members. Four of the remaining camps also have schools run by Unicef.

“Rather than expanding, we adopted the policy of focusing,” explained Sana. “We revisit the camps to refresh rations and things that are required.”

The group has recently announced its ‘donate-a-quilt campaign’ on its Facebook fan page.

Funds for rations, basic healthcare and shelter were generated through donations and collection drives by the young members. A group that has actively used the social media to mobilise and coordinate relief activities, FLP has also helped women harness their talents and skills of embroidery and traditional artwork to make products that are sold in international markets in dollars.

Half of the earnings go to the women as stipends, while the other half is invested in rehabilitation.

The organisation is also providing each camp standby ambulances in collaboration with Edhi.

Jamal Ashqain, a blogger and freelance photographer, is another young member of the FLP who visits the camps every weekend. “Our goal is proper rehabilitation,” he said. “We want to change their lifestyles and mindsets and it is this [long-term goal] that makes us want to continue,” he added.

“There is still so much that can be done,” Sana said. “Apart from warm clothes, seeds are also very important. Their lands have been destroyed. So if we provide them seeds and cattle, that will help them get back on their feet and they will not be dependent on the landlords. This is the time we can break the shackles of the feudal system,” she said.

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