Below is an email we received from a friend who is serving in Pakistan. The whole situation is desperate there, but Matt’s email gives some insight into the situation, the needs and offers some guidance on how to pray for those affected.
First, many thanks for all the concerned emails and attempted phone calls following the powerful and devastating earthquake that struck here a few days ago. I am sorry not to have got news out sooner to more of you.
I moved up north about 2 weeks ago. When the earthquake hit, I was sitting in the garden. I felt the whole earth shaking quite powerfully for a minute or so. It was quite eerie. Many rushed out of buildings, cars all stopped on the road, the birds stopped singing. I did pray that our house wouldn't fall down, but felt very calm. We heard the noise of landslides on the mountain behind our house and soon could see clouds of dust rising up from the slopes. (see picture) The following night one of the aftershocks was powerful enough to wake me up in the middle of night.
So saying, by the grace of God, we are all fine. The epicentre was some way south of here, and so our town this time escaped the destruction. Our NGO/team leader Stefan and family were one day away from travelling down the Karakoram Highway, which is now totally cut off, with landslides everywhere. We are grateful that they didn't get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Here in town everyone is rushing to stock up on fuel and gas, for we don't know when the supply route from down country will reopen.
It seems the worst hit areas are around Kohistan, Kashmir and Kaghan/Muzaffarabad/Manshera district. The village of Balakot you may have seen on the news is totally flattened... a village where I stayed in my first trip to Pakistan in 1999. Nearer to us, the village of Battagram (Kohisatn) has also been struck badly - an area where traditionally the locals are hostile towards NGOs and outsiders... perhaps that will now change.
So what next? How to respond?
We, Partner Aid International (PAI), have been working in the Northern Areas for 3 years now, and have a mandate from the government to work anywhere in Pakistan where there is need. Two more regional offices are soon to open - one in Peshawar and one in Baluchistan. Now the world's eyes and hearts have been turned towards Kohistan, Kashmir and Kaghan. Our international director, Anthony Wernli, will be coordinating PAI's response to the disaster and we hope will soon come out to assess the situation fist-hand. Stefan will try to get down to Islamabad to meet with him.
We will use our local knowledge and contacts to help in whatever way we can... in the immediate future with channelling emergency funding to reliable people on the ground (we have US/UK doctor friends who live and work in hospitals very close to the epicentre), in the long-term with providing a platform for teams to come and help rebuild people's shattered lives. Stefan suggested that I might too, if need be, head down country and facilitate relief/development workers as a translator. But that may be later on, once the emergency work is done and the long-term support begins.
For those of you who would like to give financially... please email PAI's UK Director, Jim Long as soon as possible. Tell him you would like to give to the Pakistan Earthquake Appeal Fund. He will then send you the necessary details.
Here it is the holy month of Ramazaan, where people fast and pray through the daylight hours. I thought it appropriate to close with some verses from our Scriptures about the most important kind of fasting:
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
I know much gratitude will be forthcoming from those here who had so little... and now have even less.
God bless you for your concern.