By Fareeha Qayoom
Lahore, December 2005 –
od unleashed His fury on the world in 2005 or was it a simple case of cause and effect? The religious scholars have their theories. The scientists have theirs. The bottom line is both of them are right. It’s all relative. As global citizens, we need to accept responsibility for the rise in man- made destruction and natural disasters that are dogging our world today – we are definitely responsible for the climatic changes, global warming, wars, social injustices and large-scale poverty. So both perspectives explain the same reality – we are responsible.
All these factors have an added impact when disaster strikes. No one can prevent a natural disaster from happening, even if we have early warning systems in place. Disasters don’t discriminate. The year 2005 is a case in point. Earthquakes, Tsunamis and hurricanes struck everywhere, on the rich and the poor. The natural disasters may be great equalizers in the sense that they might flatten everything and everyone in their way – however, the magnitude of destruction has different impact on the rich and the poor. The rich can cope. The poor are totally flattened. Yes, I am talking about economics. Rebuilding and rehabilitation after the event only takes money and organization. It’s no coincidence that 98 percent of people killed or affected by natural disasters live in developing countries. The Asian Tsunami of December 26th 2004, which killed close to 300,000 people in nine developing countries across the Indian Ocean and October 8th 2005 earth quake that hit northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, killing more than 80,000 people were considered the worst disasters to hit us in recent history. The world has seen dozens of worst disasters in terms of records. These two were considered the nastiest because their governments weren’t able to cope with the aftermath.
Many people in the developing countries live in unplanned squatter settlements, even in big cities. Many squatter settlements lack basic infrastructure – health, fire services, drains, telecommunications, piped water and sanitation, and therefore, are ill equipped to deal with the situation when and if it happens, besides, having the infrastructure in place doesn’t guarantee rescue, since the destruction happens indiscriminately. Pakistan was so ill prepared that the news of wide spread destruction started trickling in hours after the event – and then it was a fast paced deluge. The army was mobilized because we don’t have a disaster relief system in place besides the only organized government agency in Pakistan is the army. Even the army couldn’t get to the remote areas. We probably let a lot of people die because we didn’t even have the infrastructure to rescue them. Thank God, our president had the courage to admit that his government couldn’t cope and he needed help, otherwise, the situation would probably have been bleaker. The disaster was beyond everyone’s coping abilities. Help arrived but it takes organization to organize help too. Rescue and relief efforts aside, working around the clock, despite full mobilization of resources, volunteers, and number of organizations in the region, Pakistan is left to cope with a huge numbers of traumatized victims in the form of children, widows and senior citizens with no means of livelihood, shelter or support. Then there are victims that are permanently damaged and scarred – not only have they lost their loved ones, and their homes and their livelihoods, they have even lost the use of their limbs too.
Rebuilding their lives is an uphill struggle. Pakistan can barely cope with the scope of the task ahead.
Talk in such circumstances seems cheap and frivolous. Silence seems more appropriate. If God was indeed angry, then he was angry with the survivors and the bystanders, not with the dead. They are the ones who are expected to cope. You and I sitting in our comfortable homes, talking about helping them out can’t even begin to imagine how we would survive in similar circumstances. We only felt the earth tremble beneath our feet. We didn’t feel life slipping away from us as we know it. As bystanders watching the tragedy unfold on our Television screens, we need to understand that the victims of the quake even lost their dignity as human beings. Restoring their dignity and getting them back on their feet is our responsibility.
Pakistan didn’t lose just a generation. We also lost our false sense of security. The world is indeed a dangerous place. Cocooning ourselves with material possessions just blinds us to the reality – things can be lost in a blink of an eye and therefore, don’t really matter in the real scheme of things. It’s your humanity that’s really being tested in this world. The corporate sector all rallied around, trying to help by donating their salaries, relief goods and their time. The government, banking, telecommunication, aviation, food and beverages, media, education, and countless other sectors of the economy all contributed in the relief effort collectively and individually in the past three months. The government was able to raise 6 billion. Telling their stories would be an exercise in futility. We don’t have the space to list them all so I am confining myself to giving you a brief sampling of the corporate contribution only.
Combined Fabrics donated warm woolen garments with the permission of their brand owners. They also made a cash donation, which they plan to continue doing so for some time.
Azfar Hassan, the CEO of Matrix Sourcing has a long-term rehabilitation strategy in place to deal with this catastrophe. “We have a five year plan. We are focusing on a village. We believe in adopting entire families, creating livelihood for them so they can cope and rebuild their lives. I feel all of us need to get involved – it’s our duty to contribute in this effort. We as a company also generated some money – we raised US $ 40,000 in cash. Nike donated B and C grade clothes for example we converted the waste fabric into shawls, tents, and logistics and were able to generate $ 200,000 to 250,000 worth of relief goods from our initial stake, which was delivered through Mercy Corp to the affected areas. We sent our own trucks too.”
Sixsigma, another apparel buying house also made monetary and practical contribution in the form of fleece blankets, tents, edibles and cash donation to the President’s relief fund. They also plan to continue the relief effort every month for some time to come.
Target Corporation (AMC)
Target Corporation made a donation of US $ 100, 000 in the President’s fund at the corporate level. The company employees made a collective and individual contribution too. Raza Ahmed explained the relief strategy at Target Corporation (previously known as AMC), “first, we made a list of things, coordinated the collection of samples and cash donations. There was a lot of stuff like leather goods and knitwear. We converted some of this material in to tents and relief goods. We also facilitated our employees by providing a forum where they could contribute, leaving the actual amounts of goods and cash up to them, and then transporting the goods to governments local collection points.”
YKK International Pte. Ltd
YKK donated US $ 20,000 in President’s Relief Fund. Yes, our nation was united in the hour of need. We all did our bit. The problem? Can we build something better in its place? Only time will tell. The Tsunami victims are still waiting for the relief that was pledged to them a year after the event. Can Pakistan do better? According to the Government, the timing of rehabilitation depends entirely on how soon the pledged money really starts coming in, though, full scale rehabilitation efforts are planned from March 2006 onwards. We need to make a consistent effort and follow-up on the administration of the funds raised so far. It would be great pity if the survivors don’t benefit from all that frantic activity. It’s no longer a money- issue only; the problem now is organization and rehabilitation too. ■
Side bar: Corporate Sector
AERO ASIA, the airline transported 6,000 KGS of relief goods free of cost daily from Karachi to Islamabad.
Allied Bank donated PKR 15 million and its employee’s one-day salary to the President’s relief fund. They also offered free remittance facility and an express delivery to Muzzaffarabad and Abbottabad regions from its customers and non- customers till the end of Ramadan, also set up special counters in all their branches to facilitate the collection of funds for President’s relief fund and offered free consultation and on-line system and support to any authorized collection agency.
BMG Group announced a donation of PKR 3.5 million on behalf of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the SITE Association of Industry for victims of the earthquake.
Citibank N.A. Pakistan, a member of the Citigroup and its employees pledged US $ 3 Million for relief and rehabilitation of quake victims.
Coca-Cola, the Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola announced that the company and the Coca-Cola Foundation pledged $ 2 million (PKR 120 million) for the earthquake relief efforts under way in Pakistan. 50 percent of the amount to be deposited in the President’s Relief Fund for Earthquake Victims-2005 and the remaining to go to the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies engaged in relief work in affected areas.
Dawn Group of Newspapers, decided to adopt a group of villages in Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. The first step of this project focused on helping provide immediate relief and rehabilitation to the affected people by making tents, blankets, water, food and medical facilities available to the affected people. The second step involves the rebuilding process by providing housing, civic amenities and utilities. They plan to include a large network of villages in the whole of northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. They plan on assuming responsibility for transportation, housing, food and logistics required to work in the affected areas for a team of volunteers not engaged professionally in the field of medicine, (doctors, psychologists, sociologists, medical technicians and paramedics), engineers, architects and town planners; graduates and technicians. All encouraged to apply. Teams to be rotated every fifteen to thirty day periods.
DHL, for every cash shipment, DHL promised to match the equivalent. They also promised to donate PKR 100 for every international cash shipment at their express centers. Contributions were continued till midnight of December 31st 2005.
Hero Pakistan sports Trust donated a two-week income from Hero Pakistani collectors’ cards sales for earthquake victims.
Hinopak Motors sent 10 truckloads of relief goods. Their employees donated one day salary to the President’s relief fund.
HUBCO donated PKR 50 Million to the president’s relief fund.
Intel Corporation donated US $ 1 million for earthquake relief. In addition, they will match everything that their staff contributes.
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry set up a PKR 1.1 million Relief fund.
KAPCO, the Kot Addu power company announced support of PKR 50 million besides PKR one million in terms of one-day salary from the employees towards the President’s relief fund.
Merck Maker German Merck KgaA Darmstadt and their Pakistani subsidiary Merck Market Pvt. Ltd donated PKR 20 million to the citizen’s foundation earthquake relief fund. It also made donations through the Pharma Bureau (multinational pharmaceutical companies of the overseas chambers of commerce and industry.)
Mobilink employees across the nation donated their salaries – from one day’s worth to a month. The company also arranged corporate donations. 12 teams were formed and dispatched to the affected areas with scratch cards and mobile phone sets for people to contact their relatives. They also set up a relief fund for their subscribers, by sending a blank SMS to 180; they donate PKR 10+tax for earthquake victims.
Motorola pledged a contribution of US 0.5 million. The amount included financial support to UNICEF and emergency telecommunication equipment and facilities meant for the affected region.
Muslim Commercial Bank has contributed PKR 200 million to the President’s Fund for Earthquake Victims – 2005. All branches of the bank to accept donations from people throughout the country. Remittances from abroad to be delivered to earthquake victims without any charge. Remittances sent in by those who might not bank with the MCB to also be handled without any charge.
National Foods Limited donated PKR two million through the Citizen Foundation (TCF). 10,000 Kg National Salt was dispatched to the affected area. The employees donated their three days in amounts approx. PKR 400,000. Mr. Abrar Hasan, Chief Executive National Foods personally donated PKR 500,000 in cash on behalf of National Foods for the earthquake victims. 15,000 National Foods Jams bottles were dispatched. Relief goods i.e. salt, vermicelli, 2 Kg Jam buckets worth PKR 100,000, were also sent for distribution in the quake-hit areas.
National Insurance Company (NIC) announced a contribution of PKR 50 million for the President’s Relief Fund. The NIC employees also contributed their one-day basic salary to the relief fund.
Nestle Pakistan Ltd, the management instituted a Nestle voluntary relief fund to raise funds from their business partners, distributors, sub-contractors, vendors, contractors and employees. This account was opened in United Bank Limited, with the account title: Nestle Pakistan Ltd. Relief fund, account no. 010-4731-9. A crisis committee comprising senior managers led by the managing director was also formed at the
head to closely direct and monitor the relief efforts.
Nokia gave Euro 100,000 to support immediate earthquake relief efforts. It delivered the amount to the Edhi Foundation.
OICCI, members of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry donated more than PKR 810 million for the relief of earthquake victims. The member companies also dispatched goods, services and medicines worth millions of rupees to the affected areas. Employees of OICCI also donated their one-day salary to the earthquake relief fund.
Pak Kuwait investment company Pvt. Ltd, PKIC donated PKR 20 million and a one-day gross salary of all its employees.
Pakistan Resources Development Services Pvt. Ltd. (PRDS) offered to support and empower all the organizations engaged in relief efforts by providing FREE Geo Spatial Tools set from ESRI (Licensed software) and all the data available with ESRI and PRDS, free of cost. www.prds.com.pk
Petroleum Exploration Pvt. Ltd. contributed PKR one million towards the President’s relief fund.
Platinum Pharmaceuticals donated life-saving drugs worth PKR 3 Million and also pledged construction of four schools in the affected areas.
Synergy Advertising, to facilitate the considerable outpouring of generosity and sympathy for the Earthquake victims by the general public, Synergy Advertising offered a collection depot and facilitation service for relief aid both monetary and commodity based at its centrally located office premises. They also provided advisory, purchase and logistics and transportation services on behalf of public for relief commodities (e.g.
Tents, medicines, coffins).
TCS is delivering relief goods free of cost to the Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation.
Telenor announced an emergency relief package for the victims of the recent earthquake, pledging a sum of PKR 65 million to go to the Red Cross and President’s Earthquake Relief Fund. Tore Johnsen, Telenor Pakistan’s CEO said, “We know that the government and Red Cross are working together to mobilize resources for the relief effort and we would like to contribute by all means possible.” He said that this is the time for the corporate sector to come together and help save lives and rebuild communities that have been devastated. Telenor also opened its network in advance in several affected cities to facilitate communications and is also providing free emergency communications services to the National Crisis Management Center. Telenor also set up phone booths at emergency sites in Mansehra, Abbottabad, and Islamabad and offered free communication facilities to the affected families.
Unilever Pakistan Ltd. has not publicized their relief operation activities; however, they facilitated the collection of cash and goods donation for their employees and promised to match their contribution with corporate equivalent. They also set up a relief fund by facilitating
The deduction of salaries of their employees on their insistence, leaving the amount up to the individual. A few examples of their contribution include providing active relief in Mansehra and Muzzaffrabad: two of their territory managers administered the relief efforts and arranged a collection of food and basic items. A substantial supply of medicines and tents were dispatched with a team of doctors to Muzzaffrabad and a donation was sent to Mansehra Hospital for purchase of medicines. The tea processing plant warehouse in Dhodial was opened up for the Rotary club to set up a medical camp, a large group of volunteers and a hundred member of the lifebuoy-on-ground activation team were found working on the location. Wall freezers were provided for safe storage of medicines, a donation of tea, Energile, Glaxose-D, and soup were made and a large number of old printed skins used in hoardings were converted into tents. They plan to continue with their contribution, as they understand
“Getting life back to normal in these areas is going to be a very long and tedious journey. Our collective efforts can be even more fruitful in the next phase, that of rebuilding.”
Union Bank Ltd. donated PKR 15 million to the President’s relief fund. ■
This article was originally published in the print edition “The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review,” Tkfr, issue 13, January 2006