The Salvation Army helped thousands of people during the Pakistan floods.
With the help of donations from all over the globe, The Salvation Army distributed much-needed tents, food items and other such necessary aid to areas all over the Asian country.
Major Raelton Gibbs – a member of The Salvation Army's International Emergency Services – travelled from the Salvos’ headquarters in London to a number of Pakistani cities and villages. These include Hyderabad, a city situated on the banks of the Indus River and – as a result – was one of the worst affected areas of the flood.
“Around the city are some of the worst-affected flood areas, particularly where the river broke its banks and destroyed homes and crops,” Major Gibbs said.
“People have been left with nothing and many have made their way to this major city from the outlying districts in the hope that they will receive some assistance.”
By September, over 2,400 families in the Northwest were provided with bedding and cooking utensils. In South Punjab, 1,582 families were given similarly items and, in Sindh, more than 350 tents were distributed (one member of the Provincial Assembly – the Pakistani Parliament – was so impressed that he donated 10,000 rupees).
In the city of Khuda Ki Basti (a location which became known as ‘The Salvation Army Tent City’), the Major meet with non-governmental organisations (NGO) to discuss the situation. Major Gibbs was told how the NGOs were attempting to normalise an abnormal situation for the children’s sake.
“We do our best,” a worker told Major Gibbs. “We have teachers that come in and we try to keep things as normal as we can.”
Major Gibbs was astonished by the sheer scale and magnitude of the disaster, which was larger than the state of Victoria and affected more people than those currently living in Australia (around 8 million children were/are under threat by the threat of disease).
“This was not my first emergency response but nothing had prepared me for the scale of this disaster. This feeling was emphasised when we moved on to another camp some miles away where around 16,000 people had gathered,” Major Gibbs said.
Major Shahzada – who contributed to the planning of distributions – had previous experience in disaster relief in Pakistan, but the 2010 response is the largest response that he had ever encountered.
“I don't feel overwhelmed. I have a good team here and we have had support from both territorial headquarters and International Emergency Services who have helped us with the processes needed to do the best we can,” Major Shahzada said.