By A Mission Partner serving in South Asia
Mithu phoned to check whether I was going to be home, he had something for me. When he came to my door he unwrapped six eggs. These were the most precious eggs I have ever received. Let me tell you their story.
During the extreme Pakistan floods of last year, Mithu’s village and the whole area near the mighty Indus River were badly affected. Deep water through their mud-hut village destroyed houses, collapsed walls and washed away their simple possessions, taking months to dry out. During this time Mithu and his community were recipients of relief in different ways, including food parcels given through the Diocese. In the rehabilitation phase, his widowed mother had been given two chickens, as a source of food and possible income. These chickens started laying eggs, and it was six of these precious eggs that Mithu, an ex-hostel student of mine, bought and shared with me. The generosity with which these were given was so humbling. In wanting to help others it can be hard to receive, and here I was being given a gift so precious from limited resources, yet from unlimited love.
It is now around eight months since the flooding started, flooding that was on a scale hard to comprehend (even living here). Reports suggest at least 7.9 million people were displaced, initially 6.5 million in the Sindh alone. For some weeks we waited as waves of flood waters from the north of the country were tracked travelling south, waiting for the impact of the next ‘wave’ to reach communities. The unscrupulous would dig channels to try and get water to flow onto neighbours’ lands rather than their own.
Once areas were inundated there was often nowhere for the water to then go, with limited drainage. Months later, some areas are still filled with sitting water. Summer heat is just now drying that. In the meantime, many lived on the sides of roads (which are higher ground), under plastic or tarpaulins if they could access them. Housing has slowly been rebuilt, and new crops planted. Two months ago I noticed most of these temporary communities where I travel had finally left their roadside locations.
The challenge of relief and rehabilitation on such a scale is enormous, bringing out different sides of human nature. Through the generosity of the many from New Zealand who gave to the Diocese here, over 250 families were given support including food, bedding, mosquito nets and tarpaulins in their time of need. This support meant that families could literally eat. Medical camps were also organised, as health issues were high with so many displaced people living in the midst of contaminated stagnant water. Rehabilitation work groups continues listening to community needs, including assistance in rebuilding (see Diocesan photos) and livelihood support with the gifting of goats.
Six months after the floods, while staying with a local padre’s family, I was amazed to hear that still people were coming to their door, morning, noon and night, hoping for some form of help, literally daily. He said he could not turn anyone away, even if he didn’t have anything left to give. He and his wife would sometimes give from their own clothes.
As resources came they would share these. And even if they had nothing, they would always invite the person to come in and drink chai and be prayed for. Padre said he is challenged by Jesus’s words.
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…” (Matt 25:35-36). To graciously continue loving when another knock comes at the door at 6am can only come from a heart filled and overflowing with God’s love.
I pray that my heart will always be challenged, as it has been by the community around me, to love and care wherever I am, whatever my circumstances, being community by doing life together. Mithu showed me by his gift that this to me is God’s kingdom being lived in action: sharing six eggs at a time.
These photos are of different locations, showing the initial flood impact, a ration distribution, the provision of basic housing materials and a rebuilt house in rural Sindh.