Sunday, January 22, 2006

Posted from Pakistan on Friday, January 20, 2006
By Amber Johnson, Metro Marketing Director
for World Vision in Chicago

Faisal Masjid, the Islamabad mosque that can hold 100,000 worshipers, was quiet when Katie and I visited this morning. With marble floors and a massive gold plated chandelier, the mosque is a stunning and somber piece of architecture. A security guard who kindly offered a tour told us it was built in phases over 12 years, finishing in the late 1980s.

Phases are something we're learning about here in Pakistan. As a bystander to an emergency situation, watching news reports from the comfort of my American home, I often think of the recovery from disasters as happening in phases. First there's emergency relief: treating the wounded, burying the dead, helping lost children find their families, providing food and shelter during the first few days. Next comes the recovery phase: providing temporary solutions until more permanent ones can be established, building makeshift shelters, identifying sources of food and clean water, giving children an outlet for their emotions.
Finally there's the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. In Pakistan this means "building back better" ... better construction of schools, hospitals and homes to withstand future earthquakes, better training on how to handle an emergency situation, improved education and health care systems to care for children and families.

In some parts of earthquake-affected Pakistan, communities are moving neatly from the second phase into the third. This is in part thanks to help from organizations like World Vision, who have provided winterized tents and shelters, food, and medical care. But in other parts of Pakistan the communities are still facing the daily struggles of the first phase.

Last week, a mountain community of 4,000 people was discovered to have received virtually no emergency assistance. World Vision is now partnering with other organizations to provide quilts, mattresses, and winterized tents that will be hand-carried by high-altitude porters into this remote village. This community is still in phase one emergency relief.

We leave tomorrow for Mansehra, a region that was grealty impacted by the October earthquake. We'll work in villages in all stages of the process, and hopefully be a small part of moving children and their families a day closer to recovery, to reconstruction, and to rehabilitation.

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