Monday, January 23, 2006


Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006
by Katie Rowland, Metro Marketing
& Communications Director for New York

It is 5:45 a.m. and I am sitting in our guesthouse in Mansehra, deepening my newfound love for Nescafe and powdered creamer and taking in the habitual Muslim call to prayer. One lone male voice calls out to our compound, inviting us to join him and 95% of this Muslim country in prayer. In the distance, I hear faint voices respond, signaling the time of reverence this community is entering. It is a beautiful moment.

At 6:00 a.m. the voice calls out again. Other than this strong, monotone cry, I hear no other noise, aside from my little gas heater simmering in the corner. Within minutes, the call fades away and all is quiet. I’m left to my emails and early morning reading.

It’s 8:00 a.m., and Amber and I are headed out to meet with Frank Lyman, World Vision’s Relief Director for the earthquake response. Frank gave us a detailed overview of World Vision’s relief plans and strategies, which we learned varies greatly due to Pakistan’s geography and political climate. In some regions, we partner with the Pakistani army, in others; we work with local nongovernmental organizations. In all areas, World Vision conducts a needs assessment and strategically provides items and support that the people need.

Prior to October 8, World Vision had only 14 staff in Pakistan. But in the months after October 8, our staff size grew to 72 people. To date, World Vision has provided aid that includes food, warm clothing, winterized tents, and tools and materials to build temporary shelter to more than 64,000 people affected by the quake.

By noon, Amber and I were seated in the back of a small Anglican church in Abbottabad, a town about an hour away from our guesthouse in Mansehra. In a predominantly Muslim country, it was amazing to find this small church and worship alongside these committed, welcoming people. With five World Vision staffers in our midst, we comprised one-fifth the congregation!
2:00 p.m. -- After the service, we traveled to Balakot, where much of the earthquake damage occurred. As we drove into this town, nestled between beautiful snow-capped mountains, we came acres and acres of rubble. The sprawling wreckage of collapsed buildings, leveled homes, and multiple landslides was overwhelming.

6:00 p.m. -- We are on our way back to the World Vision guesthouse. My mind is full of the crumbled scenes I just witnessed, yet in the midst of my whirling thoughts, one thing stands out about my experience in Balakot: the spirit of the Pakistani people. Balakot was alive with movement. The people were busy constructing temporary shelter and rebuilding their homes with tools and shelter items provided by agencies like World Vision.

Though it will take years to fully recover the region, World Vision is committed to the long-term relief, recovery, and rehabilitation of this beautiful place. In partnership with other relief organizations and the people of Pakistan, the plan is to "build back better" and continue to work together to provide hope for the fallen city of Balakot!

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