Sunday, August 22, 2010

Children in Pakistan

My heart has been very heavy this week with the news coming from Pakistan. The extent of the flooding and the resulting human crisis is truly overwhelming. I heard in one report that an area the size of England is underwater. Reports are indicating that the death toll is incalculable in part because it is so high and in part because the infrastructure to reach the areas impacted is wiped out.

This week on the Diane Rehm Show there was a program that focused on the details of the dangers facing Pakistanis impacted by the floods. A number of life endangering diseases threaten the frantic evacuees as they try to escape the flood waters. There are mindboggling logistical issues trying to get to the people who need help. The program also provided several recommended charities, to which donations can be made to help the victims. You can listen to the program and see the list of recommended charities at the link below.

One news report focused particularly on the impact of the flooding to the children. A man with the charity Save the Children pointed out that in any disaster children (especially if they are poor) tend to be the most vulnerable. The interviewee described how children are particularly susceptible to diseases like cholera and dysentery, which become dire problems when clean water sources are compromised. The report—which has the mind-boggling title “Pakistan's Floods Puts 3 Million Children At Risk”-- is available below.

The other night I came home and saw a few minutes of a BBC report on the flooding. The most heart-wrenching part of the report took place in a hospital. A father and mother were at the bedside of their young son who was hooked up to tubes to treat him for cholera. The little boy looked weak and tired. The parents looked so sad. Through an interpreter, the father explained that they had just lost their older son to cholera a few days prior and the loss was unbearable. The parents couldn’t bear the thought of potentially losing another child. It was just heart-breaking. As a parent myself, I can’t fathom what that family has endured this week.

In the media, some of the commentators talk about the need for humanitarian aid in general terms to help stop human death and suffering. Other commentators take a different perspective and argue that we should increase the amount of aid in an effort to win hearts and minds away from Taliban and similar types of extremists. In the face of such human misery, I find that type of opportunism to be disgusting. Exploiting the misery of desperate human beings for political gain? Is that who we have become as a nation?

But even more repulsive to me are those who have opined that the Pakistanis don’t deserve our help. I heard one caller to the Diane Rehm Show suggest that we ought to offer aid only as a quid pro quo for the government of Pakistan to give up its nuclear program. Others expressed that the Pakistani government is untrustworthy, and therefore we ought to do nothing to help the people devastated by the floods. Some suggested that we ought not do much because it is more the responsibility of rich nations geographically closer to Pakistan to do the heavy lifting.

Comments like these are beyond my comprehension and frankly leave me at the point of despair about the state of our human family. When three million children alone are at risk (and we don't even add into the equation their parents and extended family), who can be so heartless to suggest we blackmail their government before rendering aid or refuse to help because we think someone else ought to do it? Each of those Pakistani children means the world to their families, their friends, and God.

If we are a “Christian nation” as some currently insist, how could we have learned nothing from the Parable of the Good Samaritan, one of Christ’s most important teachings? In Christ’s telling, the Samaritan never asked what was in it for him. He risked his own well-being to help his neighbor in need. He was the Good Samaritan precisely because he didn’t do as the priest and Levite before him. Instead of leaving the robbed and beaten man for someone else to tend, the Samaritan took action to minister to the man’s injuries and vulnerability.

James 1:27 (New King James Version)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.


  1. Samaritans are mobilizing... (the following is from this page: World Vision has mobilized an emergency response in Pakistan, and plans to remain on the ground to help children and families rebuild their communities and restore their hope in the months and years to come. With widespread devastation to crops, granaries, and livestock, there is both an immediate and long-term need for food, agricultural support, and other critical assistance to protect lives and livelihoods....

  2. more good Samaritans, from "Samaritan's Purse" to Pakistan... "Samaritan’s Purse is continuing to help by partnering with local believers. We are working through six Christian churches or ministries in six regions to help 2,000 families."