Pakistan: Christine Elliott tells of devastation and hope

Christine Elliott, World Church Secretary for Asia and thePacific, has recently returned from visiting the AbbottabadDistrict of Pakistan that was devastated by the massive October 8earthquake. As Chair of the Church of Pakistan Mission PartnersForum, she joined Action for Churches Together/ Church WorldService representatives to view the extent of the emergency reliefand discuss transition into the recovery stage.

She says: 'You simply cannot imagine the devastation caused by theearthquake physically, economically, socially and psychologically.Although some houses were not demolished in the earthquake, therehave been over 1,500 aftershocks and people still sleep outside forthe fear of being trapped in their homes. Tens of thousands ofpeople now live in tent villages, with 20,000 in one suchsettlement near Batgram alone.'

'With so many people living in close quarters in temporaryaccommodation, the cultural and social difficulties becomeshockingly clear. Before the earthquake, most of these people livedvery simply in the mountains in small family groups, with norunning water and little contact with large groups of people. Nowthey are surrounded by people and are finding it immenselydifficult to adjust to their new surroundings and to using what wewould consider to be quite basic sanitation. Because of theculture, many women are not permitted to be seen by men outsidetheir family and so find themselves confined entirely to theirtents.'

'But the camps are also giving many children the opportunity toattend school for the very first time, personal and communitycounselling are offered and people are being enabled to think aboutthe future. So while it is a big shock to the system, people arebeing given the tools they need to recover from thistragedy.'

'I was incredibly impressed with the work of the army, who havedone ninety per cent of the relief work, but also by the ChurchWorld Service, NGOs and other aid agencies. The Church of Pakistan(our church partner), Diocese of Raiwind have been venturing intoJammu Kashmir to provide relief and are now planning to build ahealth unit for the survivors, using £20,000 grant from the Fundfor World Mission. This is only possible because of the donationsof our generous supporters. There are so many needs to be addressedand the recovery stage will take a very long time, butinspirational work is being done'.

Christine's full report of the trip will soon be available at www.met hodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=information.content&cmid=238.

The Fund for World Mission supports mission work carried out by 61partner churches worldwide, all of which is from the donations oflocal churches. Last year it gave over £2.5 million in grants. Formore information, visit http://www.me thodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=pandw.content&cmid=593.