Aid workers continue to be on alert in Pakistan amid reports of deadly Taliban attacks against foreigners helping with flood relief efforts in the country. Kumar Periasamy serves as the director for International Operations and Programs for Operation Blessing International. The following is the Singapore native's firsthand account of the situation in the Taliban-oppressed region.
It is 5:30 p.m. in Nowshera. The sun is setting, and it is almost time to break today's fast. By this time of the day, the people are hungry and thirsty. They are worn out because of the weather. They have not eaten since 4:30 a.m. The fasting does not even permit them to swallow their saliva.
Be there. Watch footage of Kumar in the refugee camps.
The mood of the camp seems to be restless. Everyone is back in their own tents so that they can break fast as a family. It is hard to prepare any solid food at the relief camp. They do not have cooking facilities or raw materials to cook food. The common practice of breaking fast is to eat dates and have a sweet drink. Afterwards, a delicious meal is served with meat, rice, and bread. But today in the Nowshera relief camp, the people only have dates for their meal.
We just pulled in with our small truck packed with 2,000 packets of cooked food. The food preparation started about 10 a.m. this morning with the help of 10 volunteers. At 2 p.m., we picked up the food from the old city to take it to Nowshera.
This city was hard hit by the flood. It was inundated with about 10 feet of water without any warning, and the people only had a couple hours to get out of their homes. Since they lived near the quarry, they managed to get to higher ground for safety. It has been more than a month since the flood hit their homes, and it is still flooded. The quarry has now become their temporary home, a very crowded tent city.
It is hard to control a hungry crowd - men, women, and children all pushing each other to get a meal. We had to distribute the food quickly and leave to avoid an unpleasant situation. I hoped that all would get a hot meal, but there are always the weaker ones who do not make it to the line. For such people, we kept some packets of food in the truck.
I was clicking away, taking pictures when a very fragile lady touched me and asked for food. She could hardly speak and was mumbling to me. She was 85-years-old and lived with her only son. I gave her some packets of food, and she put her hand on my head to bless me.
She then caught hold of my hand and took me to her tent. Her son had been putting up the tent and had not realized that the food had been distributed. The woman said that in all her life, she had never seen such a disaster. She hoped that she would not die in her tent. She just wanted to go home. I prayed for her.
The people in Nowshera were very grateful for the food we gave them. This was the only meal for most of the families when they broke their fast. We partnered with Shelter Now International, and together, we will provide food for them for a week.
As I was leaving the camp, I saw smiling faces. They were waving their hands in appreciation of what we had done for them. Operation Blessing is a great blessing for the many lives we touched in the last few days in Pakistan.
Thank you for supporting the work of Operation Blessing. God bless you.