Salesian Groups in Pakistan Respond to Floods

In Areas Where UN Hasn’t Reached; Need Funds

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QUETTA, Pakistan, AUG. 27, 2010 ( Salesians are distributing food and supplies to thousands of families that have sought safety from the massive floods ravaging Pakistan.

Last week, a Vienna-based Salesian non-governmental organization provided Salesian Father Peter Zago, based in Quetta, Pakistan, with an initial contribution of €5,000 ($6,360).

He is using the money for families that have been displaced as the monsoons move south; more than 50,000 families from Sibi and other areas are spread throughout four or five camps.

As in 2005 when an earthquake devastated Pakistan, the Salesians have organized groups of young leaders, so as to reach more people.

The goal has been to give each family a survival kit to last for a month. 

The Salesian Info Agency reported that as much as 20% of the country is under water and 15.4 million people have been affected by the floods.

We need more

Father Zago told Vatican Radio: «This morning we received around 100 families and gave them what is essential at least for a month: flour and oil to cook ‘chapatti,’ their basic meal, some beans and medicine. We have children, boys and girls, some of whom are presenting symptoms of cholera and other diseases due to non-treated drinking water.»

Salesians are sheltering 1,500 families — some 150,000 people.

«We have received significant help from Germany and Austria, but we are in need of more,» the Salesian said. «[…] We have more than 100 families coming from areas as far as 850 kilometers (530 miles) [away].

«Here the U.N. is not yet present. We are private institutions at work. We have €80,000 ($102,000) and we are the only ones helping around here, looking after the families that are most in need. 

«Approaching the local merchants we tell them: ‘Look, we are taking care of your Muslim brothers, give us a good discount.’ They prepare daily 50 portions for me, containing almost everything, and I don’t see anyone else around coming to give any help.»

Father Zago noted that when the funds run out he will have to stop the humanitarian aid.

He recounted how the initial distribution of supplies was not easy: «We were literally attacked by people of all ages, men, women and children crying. They quickly surrounded the car in which we were traveling. For security reasons, we took down data through the windows of the car. Then the climate changed when the people had the amount of food that we gave each one.»

The other Salesian community in Pakistan, in Lahore, is also directly aiding areas affected by the floods.

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Photos and video of Salesian aid in Quetta:

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