The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Afraid they will freeze to death'

In Pakistan, an ELCA partner cares for earthquake victims

Marvin Parvez, Church World Service director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, calls the Oct. 8 South Asia earthquake “a horror story that doesn’t end.”

The quake flattened village after village in Pakistan and the disputed Kashmir region, killing an estimated 80,000 people. According to news reports, Muzaffarabad was completely devastated. Children in Abbottabad and Balakot died while in school.

To help, the ELCA sent $300,000 to CWS, its partner in the region for more than 50 years.Bill Fellows of UNICEF says the affected population “is even larger than the one affected by the tsunami [in December 2004.]”

But thunderstorms, hail, lack of roads or security problems made it difficult for aid workers to reach many areas, including Battagram and Balakot. Working in cooperation with army officials, CWS made several helicopter drops of shelter kits and other emergency relief in hard-to-reach areas.

CWS provided tents for 6,000 people, 10,500 blankets and medical help for 100,000 people. Medical staff provided immunizations and first aid at two health-care sites—in Azad Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier Province.

Yet there were still too few helicopters to airlift injured people, and aid workers transported some relief by foot.

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