Lately I have been reading a lot of news websites paying a lot of attention to international news rather than what’s going on over here in the United States. I have been listening to podcasts from and reading sites like the BBC World News, CNN, and even Yahoo! News and Google News. It has become a ritual for me to grab my netbook before bed and read the headlines on the BBC.
One of the stories that has hit me pretty close lately, and I don’t even know why, are the floods in Pakistan. I don’t know anyone that lives in this country, I am not even sure I know anyone who has visited this country, but yet I still have a soft spot for the natural disaster this country has been facing over the last month or so.
These floods have been going on for well over a month now. Since these floods began, and as the rainwaters make their way down the south side of the country, some twenty million people have been directly affected by this disaster. One thing led to another and now all of these people are without a place to sleep, without food to feed their starving families, and are even left without clean drinking water.
When all of these floods started, the United States went over to Pakistan to lend a hand. (Perhaps we should take some of the 50,000 troops still left in the Middle East and send them over to help.) When the US troops got to Pakistan, they then began controlling escape routes and even took guard on bridges that would get some of these victims to dry ground and ultimately to safety.
However, when these people began to cross these bridges, the troops stopped them demanding to see their identification cards. Well, as you can imagine, most of these victims lost their identification cards in the floodwaters. When I say that these people lost everything, I mean they lost everything. So the troops would not allow them to cross and forced them back into the floodwaters.
Like I said, there are twenty million people over there being affected by this natural disaster. Imagine that number for a second if you can. There are millions of people without their homes, their crops, and their livestock. They were literally walking through these floodwaters with nothing but the clothes they had on their back.
The United States eventually did what they always do when a natural disaster like this happens, and threw money at it. Rather than send troops over there to help clean this disaster up, or even to send food and clean drinking waters, we as a nation decided to just throw money at it. This seems to be a trend in the United States. We are not alone in this, other countries are tossing in some cash as well, but nothing is coming close to what the USA has promised. Need I remind you we are still more than a trillion dollars in debt all along the way?
Moving past the fact that we tossed money at this issue, it took nearly three weeks for any of this money to get to the people in Pakistan. There were people sitting around just waiting for food and water and a place to sleep at night and they were left doing just that, sitting and waiting. It took some three weeks for any of this money to start rolling in. Some say this is because of terrorists trying to take the money or from certain organizations spending the money elsewhere, but whatever the real reason is, let’s go back to the twenty million people without homes right now who are nearing famine if aid does not arrive quickly.
The Long Term Effects
This flood is not just going to affect these people today, tomorrow, and next week. This flood is going to affect these people for years to come. Just this week I was listening to a podcast on iTunes from the BBC World News and they were discussing the long-term effects of this disaster. The expert speaking on the other end said it would be a good five years before we see the true damage that this disaster has caused.
One thing that will take time to reestablish is the livestock. When these floods hit, people did all they could to keep their families alive, let alone their cows, chickens, pigs, and other profitable livestock options. Not to mention their crops that could yield wheat, corn, green beans, and more. This was what used to feed these people and now is washed away until they can be replanted and replenished.
Then you have to look at whether these people will stay in Pakistan. There is a lot to consider if you have lived your entire life somewhere that has literally been washed away in a matter of minutes. This reminds me of the people that live in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina. Some people stayed and decided to rebuild, but a lot of people fled the area promising to never come back. That is simply a decision that every family will have to make when the time is right.
So What Do We Do Now?
I just wish I knew why it took so long for the aid to arrive in Pakistan. Is there some sort of prejudice against these people? Is it their religion that we are trying to avoid? These people are just like you and me. They breathe in and out just like we do, and they put their pants on one leg at a time like all of us. So why are we sitting here doing nothing to help them?
You might be asking yourself, “Ricky, what are you doing to help?” I am doing what I can by educating myself on the situation, I am paying attention to the relief efforts as they exist, and I am trying to raise awareness of this to all of my friends and family. I can’t financially afford to send anything worthwhile. I can’t afford to hop on a plane and fly over there to just get in the way. But I can help raise awareness.
The one thing I hope that comes from this, if anything, is global awareness. I want there to be a global community developed because of this. Times are tough here in the States. We are at record unemployment rates and we are in what some are calling a “double dip recession” right now. But if we can do anything, as a global community, it would be to make more people aware of the situation. I feel like I am doing my part by reading about it online, by posting tweets about it on Twitter, and by sharing status updates on Facebook.
The United States is just one piece of this pie. There are billions of people living on this planet, and we can’t always be the one to bail everyone out. Before too long we might need a bailout.
As much as I hate to say it, this will happen again. This is a natural disaster that is out of our hands. Mother Nature is the one to blame for this. Even right now the east coast of our country is in danger of a hurricane. Right now is the height of hurricane season and evacuation routes have been set up starting in North Carolina leading all the way up to Massachusetts. That could be something similar in damage caused.
How did the floods in Pakistan affect you? What are you doing to help in a time of need like this?