Leaving Islamabad

I’ve been remote from the blog recently, work has been demanding and a bit depressing.  At times, I didn’t feel like writing, because I couldn’t think of anything positive to write.  I’m over that now, and happy out!  I’m drinking coffee and eating toast with Lime marmalade in bed on a Sunny Saturday morning! Yay!

I spent two weeks in England in mid March being trained in the organisations policy, process and security.

The security training was quite built up to be quite an event!  All a bit hush-hush before hand, so you thought you were going to be kidnapped on arrival in Wellingborough!  In the end, the training was excellent, with minimum scaryness until towards the end of the week where they put us through our paces with scenarios in the field, having to negotiate with communities, avoiding landmines, dealing with checkpoints and providing first aid to car crash victims.  It was good fun, and met a lot of fantastic people.

On my return to Islamabad, it was all go to get a proposal in for homes for Lower Sindh.  It took me a while to tie it all together, but I got there in the end.

In the meantime, a really nasty crisis had developed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Pakistan army has been “clearing out” terrorist elements.  Since January of this year, over a quarter of a million people have been displaced from their homes and villages, forcibly evicted by the army.  They had to leave pretty much all their belongings behind and travel to Peshawar, Nowshera and Kohat districts to find safe places to temporarily settle.  Can you imagine?  The army comes to your house and says “You have one day to get out of here, take your things, pack up and go.  We will be shooting people here, if you are not gone, you may get shot.”  It’s insane.  It’s not right, and it doesn’t seem very clever either!  I mean how is that supposed to work?  First of all, if I’m a “bad” guy (whatever that is now!) I’ve got warniing that you are coming into the village, so all I have to do is scarper, right?  Secondly, if I’m an innocent little kid in a family that is not involved in any illicit activities and I’m kicked out of my home, school, village and all of the safety and security I know to a big camp full of all kinds of risks and insecurity, I think I’m going to have a bit of a chip on my shoulder!  So surely this displacement breeds exactly the elements that the army is allegedly trying to eliminate?  For every person they capture or kill, I reckon they are making another 100 potential enemies.  Maybe even a thousand.

Anyway, I didn’t get funding for homes in Lower Sindh, because the money in the fund was dwindling and ended up getting consumed by the needs of the disgracefully displaced people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  I guess it doesn’t matter where the money goes, as long as it goes to somebody who needs it.  But I am sad for a number of reasons, first of all, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should never be in that situation, it’s a completely man made disaster, that we in the West have been largely responsible for.  The war in Afghanistan has pushed people across the border into Pakistan in that region, and helped to increase the paramilitary activity there.  I’m also sad because I really wanted to help the people of Lower Sindh with homes, but I haven’t managed to do anything there as yet.  I haven’t given up on it yet, yesterday I put together an idea for training in construction and disaster risk reduction in villages, so maybe that will come to something yet.

I know the people of Lower Sindh will rebuild their lives, but it is sad to know that I haven’t been able to take away some of the terrible burden they carry.  It is awful to have your home and all your belongings wash away, the crops where you work have also been washed away, so in many cases you don’t have any work.  You were already poor, but now you have absolutely nothing to rebuild the home for your family.  Your employer owns the land where you live, and even if you can rebuild a decent home, he or she will dictate where you can build and will continue to own the land on which you build.  You are unlikely to invest into an expensive safe house, even if you can manage to do so, because the employer can let you go at any time, and you will have to move away from the house.  And the next rains are due in July.

For me, I’m back in sunny England, and it is sunny today.  It’s Saturday, the 12th of May, it looks like summer, well, like a beautiful spring day at least!  I’ve been home for two weeks now and had a nice time with Euan before I go off on my next adventure.

Leave a Reply