Yesterday we posted an updated bulletin regarding The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief work in Pakistan in response to the area’s devastating floods.
Today we are sharing the firsthand account of Major Dennis Gensler of The Salvation Army Pakistan Territory regarding his efforts in the recovering communities. Some of his narrative expands on the events described in yesterday’s bulletin, and much of the narrative provides additional detail exclusive to Major Gensler’s own experience. We hope it will provide you with a more personal view of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts and the plight of flood survivors.
“We left Territorial Headquarters Saturday 14 August at 4:30 am for the four hour trip to Islamabad to pick up other members of the Disaster team before going the remaining two hours to Charsadda. We were in two vehicles as the plan was to leave the four-wheel drive truck with the Islamabad team for their future visits to the flood areas.
We were grateful for the good organization that Captain Asif in Peshawar had arranged. Each family that was to be helped had a paper with their name and identification number on it and they were numbered from 1 to 100. After showing their identification card and giving their thumb print they were given a canvas bag with cooking utensils, pots, buckets, plates, cups, and kettles. They also received a foam mattress, a quilt and a large pillow. Everyone was very grateful for these very useful items. We did this in three places for a total of 300 families being assisted and it all ran very smoothly. We were able to have prayer at each location. We were joined by a few of the Bishops of other denominations and even a Muslim leader came and shared a few words at one of them. We also had the MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) for the Peshawar area Prince Javed participate in one of the distributions. We are expecting to help at least 3,000 families in this area alone.
After a long day of passing out relief goods we went into Peshawar to spend the night at a guest house. Peshawar was not at all what I expected. It’s really a very large and modern place.
On Sunday morning we did some additional assessments at some of the areas affected by the flood waters. We visited some families whose small mud homes were missing walls and parts of the roof. One home had a large hole in a small bedroom where a woman was in mud up to her neck and had to be pulled out by a few men. They were already working on rebuilding some of the mud walls and in some cases they will use some bricks. It’s not that much stronger, since they don’t use cement with the bricks – only mud. One little boy in this area was holding a 9 mm pistol which he seemed to keep at his side, somewhat hidden. I wasn’t sure if it was real or a toy, but being an American in Peshawar I felt my heart race a bit. I called him and some other boys near to me for a picture. It’s hard to imagine the affect that all of this is going to have on the children. My heart was aching for each of them.
The really disturbing place that we visited was a village called Azhakhel, which as it turns out was an Afghan Refugee Camp. As I looked at the map it appears this place is right at the bend in the river. Another village just to the west is called Pabbi and they were hit just as hard. As far as we could see in either direction was total destruction. Villagers told us that there were around 15,000 families in these places, but we couldn’t verify that.
The work of recovery and rebuilding here in Pakistan will take years. They were already so far behind, but this will just send them back even further. I wish I could rely on the generous gifts from around the world to give what is necessary, but considering how Pakistan has become alienated from so many I don’t see that happening. I wish more people could see the Pakistan that I have come to see in the last six months. I’m certain they would give more.”
If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan, you can donate by clicking here.
The Salvation Army in Pakistan continued its initial response to the floods that have are now thought to have affected 20 million people by distributing bedding and cooking utensil packs to 300 families in Charsada. An assessment team visited Charsada a week earlier and discovered that the floods had devastated the town, wrecking homes and businesses.
The distribution team included Lieut-Colonel Yousaf Ghulam (Chief Secretary of the Salvation Army’s Pakistan Territory) and Lieut-Colonel Rebecca Yousaf (Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries).
The first distribution, to 100 families, took place at Charsada Bible Church. Lieut-Colonel Ghulam spoke to community members, offering sympathy.
The Bishop of Peshawar arrived during the distribution and thanked The Salvation Army for its work. Members of the local media were also present and asked many questions about The Salvation Army.
The next distribution was in a hujra (an annex to a main building) in Charsada for two hundred Muslim families. There was a large crowd of people already gathered when the team arrived but the proceedings went smoothly. The chief secretary gave a short message for the community and the bishop offered words of comfort. Local Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Mr Javed Prince added a few words of sympathy for the community.
One of the recipients in Charsada was Noor Ali, a student. He told the Salvation Army team that his family fled their home when the waters began to rise. When they returned home the house was full of water.
He said: ‘We are determined to face this big challenge. We will do hard work to reconstruct our houses. At the moment we are having problems but we are brave and we can fight.’
Imran Azm, a policeman who works in Peshawar, collected supplies for his parents. He told team members that he is determined to provide for his family.
Both Noor and Imran expressed their gratitude for what they described as a ‘token of love’ given by The Salvation Army.
The next day, the team visited Academy Town Corps (Salvation Army church) to meet affected families. Assessment visits were also made to Nowshera, Pabi, Jahangia and Aza khail, all communities near the River Kabul.
In Aza khail the team saw people in desperate need. The community of around 15,000 people was near to the river and its houses were washed away. The people who remain explained that many bodies have yet to be found because they were swept away by the flood or buried under rubble.
The community members asked for tents to provide shelter. The Salvation Army is putting together funds so it can look to buy a large number of tents that will begin to address some of the people’s most urgent needs.
Today is National Thrift Store Day! What are you going to do to celebrate?
How about donating to or visiting a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store?
If you’ve been meaning to get rid of those extra clothes, books, and clutter taking up space in your house, today’s the perfect day to do it.
Or maybe you need to do some back to school shopping for your child’s clothes or dorm room essentials.
Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores provide a convenient way to recycle new or gently used items and our discounted prices are wallet-friendly, both great benefits for you and your family.
But your support of our Thrift Stores also significantly helps people in need!
Sales from our stores fund Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers where men and women can find treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, as well as learn life and employment skills that prepare them to re-enter society and the job market.
All great reasons to celebrate. Happy National Thrift Store Day!
Last week in Atlanta was a desperate scene as a crowd of 30,000 people gathered for the chance to receive a public housing assistance application. The throng spent hours enduring sweltering temperatures even though the city’s available public aid falls far short of the exceeding need. The situation is representative of the overall dire economic struggle faced by the city’s sizeable low-income population.
Around the same time the event made national headlines, The Salvation Army of Atlanta posted a video of a homeless mother who has found shelter and resources through their center. The assistance will keep her family off the streets and empower her to more quickly get back on her feet. The mother’s account shines as a positive contrast to the pessimistic news stories, showing hope available through The Salvation Army for those who have fallen into economic crisis.
The city’s need, though, has resulted in a significant increase in demand for services from The Salvation Army Atlanta and has put a strain on their operational resources. Staff has logged countless hours of overtime. They are fielding some 40,000 calls each day from metro Atlanta residents seeking relief and their phone systems are overwhelmed.
So that The Salvation Army does not have to turn away one person in need, they have launched a “Call to Action” campaign to raise $300,000 in additional funds by September 30, 2010 to help meet the needs of hurting callers.
Supporters can donate by:
– Clicking Here for a Secure Online Donation
– Phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY
c/o Call To Action
The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 49247
Atlanta, GA 30359
For more information on how you can help, visit The Salvation Army Atlanta’s website at www.salvationarmyatlanta.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog.
Thank you for your help and consideration!