Kachhi Community Development Association
Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - The Pakistani Bishops of the three dioceses most affected by the recent floods that have caused extensive damage in the country, say that "the floods have destroyed homes, but not the faith of Catholics, who are suffering in the midst of the crisis". Speaking in recent days at a media forum, followed by Fides, Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi, Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad (two cities in the Sinh province) and Bishop Khalid Rehmat OFM Cap of Quetta (capital of the province of Baluchistan) stated that "people continue to depend on international aid, but show great generosity and solidarity is moving and encourages a lot of hope".
The Bishops of Pakistan renew their appeal for greater support from the local and international community for people affected by the floods. The needs indicated are food, medicine, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, blankets, clothes, tents and safe drinking water, all materials for immediate aid.
Then when the floodwaters have receded, the second phase of aid will continue, with measures to rehabilitate livelihoods, especially agriculture, with the reconstruction of homes, with the restoration of infrastructures and schools.
"Today the scenario is still worrying and painful. However, those affected cling to the survival instinct and also to the inner spiritual strength that always leads man to life, and leads him to hope for the future", says Archbishop Travas, praising the way ordinary people from different walks of life show empathy and generosity towards strangers.
Solidarity passes through small gestures: the teachers and all the staff of the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Karachi have donated a day's salary for aid organized by the Church, he says. And people from different walks of life are coming forward to donate time and energy as volunteers in humanitarian assistance, he notes. "Looking at the difficulties and the struggle to survive, it may seem that everything is hopeless or that people are experiencing a spiritual aridity. Instead we can say that people, in this crisis, showing a deep faith in God, believe in Providence and find in God the rock to move forward and look to the future", concludes Msgr. Travas.
Bishop Shukardin of Hyderabad agrees, reiterating that "despite the challenges that people are facing, spirituality and faith are alive. Catholics are helping everyone, Christians and Muslims alike, helping those who need help during these difficult times", he says, noting the gratitude that is developing in society towards the Catholic Church for the aid put in place which will also touch the next phase. In fact, with 95% of agricultural workers in a state of crisis, farmers will need new seeds and fresh plants to grow after the flood waters have receded and Caritas is organizing intervention programs in this direction as well.
In the diocese of Hyderabad, the Bishop said, the people most affected among them are women and children who receive health care in the Catholic hospital of St. Elizabeth, and in various health centers opened by the diocese in the area.
In Baluchistan, life was already marked by problems such as poverty, terrorism, political instability, unemployment. Now natural disasters aggravate poverty, but "our people, even if they are poor on a material level, but have a strong faith, which generates courage and hope even in this difficult time", notes Bishop Khalid Rehmat OFM Cap, Apostolic Vicar of Quetta. The Prelate points out that, as winter approaches, the displaced will soon need warm clothes, blankets and tents, since "many sleep in open places and along the streets as their homes are destroyed", he says.
With the support and organization of Caritas Pakistan, rescue operations continue in the various dioceses, in which volunteers, priests, nuns, communities and ecclesial associations are doing their utmost.
According to an estimate by the United Nations, as of September 20, more than 30 million people have been displaced by the disaster that left 1,500 victims, including 552 children. More than 600,000 people have currently found shelter in the relief camps, set up and cared for by various national and international humanitarian agencies.
While the southern province of Sindh still remains flooded - and experts warn it could take six months for the waters to recede - there are fears that diseases and epidemics could spread, even generating a health emergency. (PA/SD) (Agenzia Fides, 22/9/2022)