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Tens of thousands of families in remote villages of Pakistan lost everything in the devastating July 2010 floods, and more than one year later, many still have little access to adequate health care.
AmeriCares is determined to deliver crucial medical services and aid to families in desperate need. Relief worker Riaz Khalil confers with village elders and coordinates with partners to distribute relief items, install water pumps and wells, and hold free medical camps, where impoverished families get the care and medicines they need. One such camp took place on July 2, 2011. Riaz provides this first-hand account of the day.
This was the first-ever medical camp in Sharifabad, a village of 1,000 houses, and one of the most impoverished poorest villages I have visited. Many houses are still flood-damaged and unsafe to occupy, but these families have no choice. Work is scarce and many of the men go to nearby towns for employment.
A total of 460 patients were treated at the camp, where one doctor, one medical technician, one registrar and two pharmacists worked tirelessly from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicines for a variety of medical conditions. Volunteers from the village and partner staff were present to organize the overwhelmingly large crowd. By late-morning, the entire street was packed with children and women, men, and elderly patients, all waiting for hours to get medical treatment.
After receiving their medicines, nearly every patient took the time to greet us and express their gratitude.
Haleema Bibib, a 70-year-old mother of two sons thanked AmeriCares for this support. “I am sick and can’t go to the hospital because I can’t afford the transportation,” she told me. “This medical camp and your medicines gave me hope for life.”
The tiniest patient was 8-month-old Sabir, brought to the camp by her grandmother, who explained, “I am a widow and whatever little my son earns is hardly enough for our daily expenses. We can’t afford to see the doctor and buy medicines for the baby. You are angels for our village and we will pray for your organization and all who came here to help us.”
I left camp at 6.30pm grateful for the chance to reach out to the people in this very remote village and give them “hope for life.”