Many conversations start with the question: Why do you think the aid for the earthquake victims lag so behind Katrina or the Tsunami? After all, over 80,000 people have perished. I don't know. Some say that it is disaster fatigue. Some mention that non-white victims are less so. Some say that the General and his policies are responsible.
I really have no clue. Those who read this blog - even casually - know that I have been trying to raise funds and awareness in the little capacity that I have. I know the effort of people in the blogospheres.
I would like to thank E-mullah especially for all his work and effort in Montana. I would like to thank Olaf at Inaudible Cities for his great help. Ashweeta and Anna deserve special thanks. I know these individuals can only do so much - but collectively we can all do much.
Today is Blog Quake Day. I urge you to donate. Choose all the options listed here or elsewhere.
Go below the fold to read a short piece by Umair Khan.
(By Umair Khan. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
This is an article written by Umair Khan, CEO of Clickmarks, a VC funded silicon valley company and an MIT alumni. Many of you know Umair Khan from Chowk.com
Spare a scream for the 100,000 dead and 3 million homeless, muted out of world media.
Unmourned by the news media, unmarked by the world, Saturday October 22 was the two week anniversary of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan, India, and Kashmir. An estimated 100,000 have been killed and, of the 3 million made homeless, at least another 100,000 are in high peril as winter rolls down from nearby K-2. If they perish, they would surely have been suffocated by the silent air waves.
For the 3 million homeless the bell tolls noiselessly. Beyond Pakistan's national news media, their coverage is a silent movie playing out on inside pages (if at all). Four more weeks of radio (and print and TV) silence and the region will become as quiet and stone cold as the news media. The news folks whose attention to the tragedy has declined as swiftly as the deaths have mounted, may finally get to report a "frozen" death toll. In four weeks, winter too will white-out the survivors.
Intense and swift and whole-hearted as the response has been among the compassionate and the aware, it has been far too noiseless. For Pakistanis, for Kashmiris, for South Asians, for Asians, for humans and for humanity everywhere, this is not the time for whispered tears, silent if ardent prayers, mumbled grumblings, and soundless emails.
This is the time to scream.
Not in despair, or panic, or anger. But in recognition and in resonance.
This is the time to broadcast the unbroadcasted. And this time expires in 4 weeks. There will be little point to being heard after that.
There have been No vigils to mark the disaster: week 1, week 2, now week 3 - I keep counting. No silent, candlelight vigils at sunset. No minute of silence at 8:51am. No day of mourning. No protest march (silent or loud) against NATO's refusal to airlift the injured. No sit-ins to demand of governments the desperately needed helicopters, tents, medicine, monetary aid. And no demonstrations in front of the oblivious offices of world media.
3 million people have cried out, shouted, groaned, and screamed for 14 days. Cries of pain, of loss and mourning, out of deep rubble, for a sip of clean water, in despair, in panic, in anger. That is a lot of noise muffled down by the media.
These screams must make it through us into radio, TV, online editions and hard copies. Why? Because compassion and humanity do not stifle the cries of the helpless. Villainy and inhumanity do that.
Why else? Because as long as these screams are unheard, they will keep multiplying.
This is the time to scream.
Here is one scream that keeps ricocheting within me. The scream of a boy born the same month and year as my 6 year old son, who was laid out on grass and given candy in place of anesthesia, as one leg is amputated with a non-surgical instrument. Given the 40 or so similar amputations on children each of the last 15 days, there is a scream from a child who was born the very same month and year as your child. If you make his scream heard, it may not multiply.
Why, I wonder, have we not screamed till now. Those for whom the quake struck close to home have responded with unimaginable emotion and effort. I have never seen anything like it within my community. But the din of our passion blocked out the silence around us. That must be why the even the most well-intentioned among us have not reached out to all colleagues, friends, family, schoolmates, neighbors, bystanders, celebrities, talk radio hosts, politicians, journalists. That must be why Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who met with Angelina Jolie a few months back has not called upon her to raise awareness of the plight of these people. That may be why we have not plastered our local public spaces with flyers and posters. Or called our local TV stations and demanded that they cover the news. Or incessantly called and emailed world governments to send in helicopters. Or protested NATO's refusal out in the streets. Or bombarded the detached media with voicemails.
But there is still 4 weeks of time left to scream out to the what-you-never-hear-never-exists world. Not just a metaphorical scream but a real one: close your eyes, clasp your hands in font of you, focus on the unheard scream of a victim, then exhale a loud "Aaaaaaaaaah" till you have no breath left. Smile at the absurdity or cry in relief.
Do this at home, at work, in public places, at non-silent vigils you hold, during commemorative moments of non-silence that you declare, and at rallies you help organize (preferably in front of news media offices). And when others (colleagues, friends, family, schoolmates, neighbors, bystanders, celebrities, talk radio hosts, politicians, journalists) see and hear this, and ask if you are feeling alright, tell them about the earthquake: about the helicopters, the tents, the winter, the 100,000 dead, the 100,000 to save, the 3 million homeless, the injured, the amputated, the NATO refusal, the silent media.
Tell them about the screams and how to stop them.
Technorati tag: blog quake day
I think it's a bit less sinister. Katrina was close by, and obviously disastrous for populations to which (many of us) had close connections. The Indonesian Tsunami, while distant, was SO powerful that the scale of the disaster, the depth of suffering, was immediately obvious. The Kashmir earthquake has been relatively inaccessible. Most Americans, if they think about Kashmir at all except as a catchphrase for Indian-Pakistani tensions, would probably expect it to be a relatively sparsely populated mountain region. So the initial death and injury tolls coming out were pretty much in line with what many thought was a low-impact region. It's only with a bit of time (and dedicated reportage) that we've realized that there really was a huge human toll to the quake and that our initial impressions were wrong. Wilma, being closer (there's an inverse square law of disasters, though I don't remember who first articulated it), has overshadowed some of the followup reporting from Pakistan and India, which makes it harder. It's timing, and perception, I think.
Petition: Save lives by urging media to provide coverage for earthquake in South Asia http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/448983019
I agree with Jonathan..there are multiple factors playing a role..also South Asia and Kashmir in particular is perceived differently in the world..it's sad but the response ..often despite the medias best efforts seems to be losing steam
This is a great and thought provvoking article. After 1 month, its unfortunate but the earthquake victims who are not reached, will probably die. My question is: Have we started thinking about all the people, especially the thousands of orphaned infants and handicapped who will require an organized system to help them... We should start thinking about that otherwise, we will have another catastrophy to deal with in the enxt 2-3 months. Ahmer Azam
there is some updates on the situation in pak earthquake zone by a brother who is currently visiting the area http://islamiblog.blogspot.com
Thanks for the link. It is essential reading.
There are pictures from Operation Heartbeat's medical mission at http://www.saquake.org/saquake/2005/10/operation_heart.html. Once you're there you can see pictures from photojournalist Bruno Stevens as well.
We have just started second round of earthquake fundraising. This time we are collecting tents. I encourage you to spread the word and link to the post so that people can replicate the same idea. Still there is lot to be done. Tents for Pakistan
I am a US based Pakistani and would like to inform of another way to raise some funds for the earthquake, that worked really well for us. We organized a "Earthquake Mela"/ fair for the community (Pakistani/ non-Pakistani) in NJ yesterday. The hall rental was highly subsidized ($1500) since it was for a charitable cause. The food was largely donated by restaurants in NJ. Volunteers organized games/ face painiting/ hena paining etc. Funds were raised as follows: 1. Entrance Fee that was $3 per person. 2. Food items were being sold at restaurant rates. We spent close to $8-$10 per person just on food. 3. Children games etc. were another $20 or so... 4. Tables were sold by vendors (banks, mortgage companies, books sellers etc) who paid for the tables. I believe that an average family of 4 would have spent close to $80-$100 dollars on fun things, but all that money went towards Fund raising. If there were, lets say, 500 families (conservative estimate) who attended, that translated to $50,000 of funds. In addition to that, people also wrote checks and donated money for the quake victims. Sometimes people find redirecting their existing entertainment towards fun things like this easier than to put there hands into their pockets, which are not very deep for everybody. I believe that other communities should do that too. Ahmer Azam
I recently attended a discussion hosted by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shaukat Aziz during which he throughly covered the Earthquake crisis. He shared with us that the total cost of earthquake is close to $5 BN and the international pledges have been in excess of $6 BN. We are very proud of the efforts of the present Government. Ahmer Azam