We arrive at Jinnah International Airport for the second time. Harry is driving again. With him was another police man. A broad chested man with sharp eyes and shiny shoes who carried his Kalashnikov as if he had been born with it.
Several trucks are loaded with the boxes and we take 4 boxes for ourselves....We arrived back at Mr Abdul Wahid Uqails' house, District Commissioning Officer’s....Leaving the boxes in the house we take 8 LIFESAVER jerrycans with us and head out for the villages Maqsood has picked out for us. Why these 2 in particular I ask him. “Very poor, very poor’ he says in his compassionate, thick Urdu accent....
We cannot make it all the way to the first village. With flood waters for as far as the eye can see on our right we travel along another causway but are forced to stop about 200 yards away from the village. A small bridge has become too weak and eroded by the floods, it is too narrow for the 4x4. The people had already spotted us from afar and were streaming down the road to enquire as to what all of the fuss was about.
Entering the village my eyes seemed to involuntarily switch to grayscale. The floodwaters had ripped right through the place....The odd shoe lay where it had stopped floating. a piece of broken bottle wedged in the mud while all around, nothing. These villagers had really lost everything.
There are about 250 people living in these squalid disease infested conditions. The flood waters had recently subsided from this area so the people had tentatively moved back in. Very little aid had reached them, save for the supplies that Maqsood had arranged. They had not received any clean water and were instead relying on the waters that surrounded them.
We had handed over the two LIFESAVER jerrycans and I was just about to launch into my little training session when Harry suddenly took over. And that was that. He had them filling it with their drinking water; which to you and me looked more like a cup of very weak milky Earl Grey.... As he pumped he explained about the bacteria and virus removal and how they should clean and look after it.
I was amazed, Harry just stepped up without being asked and helped. It was lovely to see this other side to him....After a few minutes he gestured for me to come forward and drink the water. The weak stomached Englishman drank the water again. The elder smiled and passed a cup of clean water to the children....It was marvelous.
After all the children had had a drink, a small 2 year old boy staggered forward from one of the grey wooden huts. His clothes could not have been cleaned for weeks....An older boy handed him a full glass of water. Taking it in two hands the little boy proceeded to drink and without stopping for breath, finishing the whole lot. There was silence for a second or two and then all the children and adults started clapping............ I cried! I didn’t think I would after the first day. I had been so confused about my feelings all evening. However this shining moment of happiness as the small boy stood there smiling with a satisfactory grin on his face made me well-up. It was a similar happiness to that of my wedding day. Joy and satisfaction just seemed to wash over me.
And that was our work done. We said our goodbyes and made our way to the second village. Here they had managed to save a few more of their possessions. They had some cattle, a few goats and 8 plastic chairs I might otherwise expect to find in my local garden centre.
The village elder explained that the whole village had been flooded. He said the waters had come from over there in the east rising up until it completely engulfed the place. All of their crops have been ruined and their livelihoods have all but been washed away. Dignity, pride and sadness all combined as he told his story to Mustafa from the JS foundation.
Again Harry clicked into action. I just sat back and with some degree of pride watched wistfully as he conducted his people. The Imam had just started up over the loud hailers. Fasting was now over for that day. The Elder took a glass of water and when he had finished declared through Maqsood that it was “very good, very good”. He then told Mustafa that when people became ill with stomach problems in his village they would raise some money and purchase a bottle of mineral water for them. This would help flush out their system and they would get better. He proclaimed that from now on they would no longer have to buy mineral water, these LIFESAVER jerrycans would produce their mineral water from now on. Well that’s a pretty hard metaphor to beat. He insisted we join him for a drink and some melon, which we gratefully did before taking our leave and heading home.