News of the Alif Laila team’s work following the earthquake of 2005


News of the Alif Laila team’s work following the earthquake of 2005

Immediately after the devastating earthquake of 8 October 2005, which razed countless homes in Muzaffarabad and Bagh, the Alif Laila team went to Muzaffarabad and began the job of collecting and distributing relief goods – mainly tents and jackets. They returned to Lahore and Islamabad and visited women and children who had been moved to hospitals there from the disaster area.

After the disaster some distressed families moved to Islamabad from Muzaffarabad and Bagh and the Al Makhtaum Centre became home to 16 families and 59 children; including three children who were severely injured in the earthquake. The residents are currently enrolled in the Safe Play Area set up by Save the Children UK, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan. SCFUK is working on developing a very comprehensive package to cater to the psychosocial needs of these displaced children who continue to suffer from the trauma of shock and homelessness. A psychologist is already available to assess the needs of these children and engage them in group therapy. Alif Laila has been approached by SCFUK to give expert contributions for the ECE and catch-up education schemes for these children who will eventually return to their homes and schools. The Alif Laila team has also helped to paint the Safe Play Area for the children.

In addition members of Alif Laila are working on the development of art, craft and puppet kits. These artistic and creative activities were designed to occupy the children affected by the earthquake encouraging them to smile again, thus making their makeshift schools transformed into happier places. Alif Laila was also invited to train field coordinators in the use of the materials for a UNICEF, SCFUK project that will run in 180 schools in Muzaffarabad and Bagh. The team visited Muzaffarabad on the 21st and 22nd of November in this regard. While there they conducted two sessions: one with the trainees and another with the children who attended one of the tent schools. They reported that it was very rewarding to see the children laughing, talking eagerly and actively involved in the proffered art activities. One child questioned a little fearfully “Are you here to vaccinate us?” When told “Yes. With a potent injection of laughter, enjoyment, and fun,” he and his friends burst into smiles.

One mother tried to push her child into the tent. The child was frightened and started to cry, but once she saw the atmosphere in school she sat happily and remarked to her mother once the activities were over: “I passed!”

The resilience of the people who have lost everything is amazing. The earthquake has taken away their homes and loved ones, but mercifully not killed their spirit. They now start to pick up the threads of life and begin anew.

Salutations to such courageous people!