Current priority: Preventing waterborne disease during ongoing floods

The Monsoon rains of South Asia struck a devastating blow to the region. The Swat Valley, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas, normally sits on the fringe of these annual rains, but this time the rains came with an intensity not seen in four generations. Old records of British India show a similar situation occurring in the early 1920s. The Swat river, the lifeline of the valley, normally a picturesque mountain stream, crested far above previously known flood stages, causing a massive torrent to surge downstream, destroying homes, roads, bridges, farmland and livestock in its wake. Hundreds of deaths have been reported and the tally keeps rising. This has created desperate conditions for towns and villages in the area. There is a major shortage of food and waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery have begun to spread. Power has been out for the last 10 days. The only way we have been able to communicate is by recharging our computers and cell phones at a home nearby which has a small generator. Unfortunately, even more rain is in the forecast and there is no estimate as to when the electricity, gas, tap water and phone lines will be available again.

Despite this castastrophic situation, I am extremely busy holding medical camps and health seminars two, sometimes three times a day in the flood-affected areas of Swat. We are getting a little help from a couple of NGOs, like CCP to supply rations to the affected people, but the majority of the effort is made by our own SRI Preventive Healthcare Program. My fear is that a lot of people will die of the waterborne diseases, and that is why I am holding health seminars so frequently in order to educate the population in disease prevention and also to treat them for dysentery and diarrhea.

Here are a couple of media references to the situation, although a simple search for Swat Valley Flood will get you updated news.

Here is an article from Fox: Pakistan’s Swat Valley survives Taliban insurgency only to face destruction from floods

Letter from the Founders

Dear Friends,

We have always felt a debt of gratitude to the social institutions under which we grew up: Pakistan in the 60’s.  Today, unfortunately, those institutions are but a pale semblance of what they used to be. We were privileged but came from families that, despite their station in society, gave and taught us to give of ourselves to those who were less privileged.

This background, and our subsequent achievements in life, put us in a position to help the most needy people in Pakistan.  We are most effective in Swat:  This is in the region we are from, this is where we best know the people and this is where the people know us well.

We started Swat Relief Initiative at a time when the people of Swat went through the first major trauma of three major disasters: the 2008 Taliban takeover, the ensuing 2009 war and the 2010 mega-floods.

The most vulnerable segments of Swati society are the women and children – they are our focus.  We bring the men along too, for they are key to helping develop a milieu in which women and children can grow into fully contributing members of society.

We have a holistic approach to social growth with programs in Social Mobilization, Health, Education, Economic Development and Sustainable Environment. While working in these areas of social development we partner, when necessary, with individuals and organizations that can supplement our expertise and impact.

Of course, we cannot do any of this without the help of your continuing generous contributions, which we continue to pledge will go directly to where they are needed the most: programs and projects on the ground that provide the greatest opportunity for less fortunate women and children to thrive.

Thanks,

Zebu and Arshad Jilani