Love in Action
Report from Pakistan
Compiled by the Taipei News Group,
On October 8, 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern Pakistan. And as news of the catastrophe spread, members of The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association immediately launched a relief operation to provide medical care and many tons of relief supplies to the victims. Tents, warm scarves and hats to protect against rough weather were purchased and delivered to the affected areas. (For details, please refer to The News #161.) Unfortunately, however, as winter set in the lack of sufficient warm clothing grew more evident as many quake victims and their children contracted pneumonia and were in desperate need of medical care. Learning of the victims’ suffering through news reports, Supreme Master Ching Hai instructed Formosan initiates to quickly form a medical team to provide free medical care and distribute winter garments in the quake-stricken area during the cold season.
Thus the practitioners promptly began liaison work and established a material supply team and a medical team, the latter being comprised of sisters and brothers from Hong Kong, Formosa, Thailand, China and the United States. Also, after assessing the victims’ clothing needs, a group of Singaporean initiates traveled to Pakistan to make timely purchases and distribute the items. Thus a total of nineteen volunteers from several countries participated in the aid activities, which were scheduled to be conducted from January 28 to February 16, with the teams working in rotating shifts to ensure continuous free medical care and other relief work in the affected areas.
Through Master’s blessings, the first medical team arrived in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on January 28, and quickly set off for the town of Mansehra. Early the next morning, the initiates proceeded to the village of Garlat situated in a large river valley, where more than ten thousand tents crammed onto the sides of the valley served as temporary homes for the disaster victims. Four months had passed since the earthquake, which had caused over ninety percent of the houses in the area to collapse, but there was still no sign of reconstruction work. And assistance from many countries around the world could barely meet the needs of the staggering number of victims. Moreover, the grim situation was aggravated by an early January snowfall over most of the region. Crude tents offered little protection for the scantily clad residents in the freezing temperatures, and many who had contracted pneumonia needed urgent assistance.
So on January 29, the practitioners set up a medical care station in a tent borrowed from the locals, and with the help of the village chief news of the free service being offered by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association spread quickly. Thus more than a hundred patients were served by three fellow practitioners who were physicians, with the chief praising the team members for their concern and professional attitude. And despite the large number of patients, through Master’s blessing, the initiates remained in high spirits the whole time and successfully rendered care.
Over the next few days, the sisters and brothers continued to serve the inhabitants of several villages near the severely devastated area of Balakot, where many were suffering from respiratory tract infections, asthma, pneumonia and skin diseases. Malnutrition and fatigue were also widespread, caused by prolonged living in tents and lack of proper nutrition. In addition, backaches were common among the elderly, and poor hygiene and lack of medical resources had resulted in tooth decay, ear and skin infections, intestinal parasites and other illnesses among the younger generation. During the first few days of the initiates’ efforts, most of the patients were men and children, and the medical team later learned that this was due to religious etiquette, which frowned upon women making social contact with strangers beyond the local community. So on the fourth and fifth days of the project the team thoughtfully set up operations in the same village, and only then did many women come, with most saying that it was the first time they had sought medical treatment.
The Singapore relief team also arrived in Garlat on January 29 and traveled with the medical team to the affected villages to distribute aid materials to approximately three to four hundred victims in each location, where the physicians found that malnutrition was common. So a total of 4,000 1-kg-packs of milk powder and 1,200 packets of oatmeal were purchased locally and distributed to provide the residents with vitamins, calcium and iron. The initiates also distributed warm jackets, blankets, socks and ladies’ and children’s shoes. And a village chief said, "Over the past four months we’ve received many generous donations of water and food, but no one has included emergency provisions like warm clothing as The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association has done. So the victims are deeply moved and grateful to you and Master for your timely assistance.” Actually, this occurred because before the relief teams began their activities Master had thoughtfully specified providing these warm items.
During the relief team’s previous visit to the region in October 2005, Mr. Ashraf had been an enormous help as a local guide, and fortunately they had the affinity to work together again. Mr. Ashraf very much agreed with Master’s teachings and recognized that the medical care and relief supplies provided at Master’s instructions were very special and different than those of other groups as the team members were serious in their work and always meditated quietly during breaks. Thus during this second visit the sisters and brothers explained to him the power of the Quan Yin Method and the importance of meditation and a vegetarian diet, and he replied “I’m already a vegetarian like many other people in the villages.” Mr. Ashraf later learned the Convenient Method and had good spiritual visions.
Then, through the assistance of local interpreters and administrators the work proceeded smoothly and up to February 2 the initiates had treated nearly six hundred patients. Throughout the effort the practitioners also distributed Master’s photos, which were much loved by the local children, along with “Alternative Living” flyers promoting vegetarianism. Holding the pictures up in their hands, the youngsters happily posed with the team and smiled at the camera, demonstrating that their dire circumstances had not taken away their pure natures and faith in God’s grace. ♥