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Water Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink

Ray Nakshabendi's picture

Disasters seemingly have become so commonplace lately that many of us have become desensitized to them. Watching disaster unfold has become like hearing a cacophony of voices on a busy street but not really listening or paying attention to your surroundings. Take a second, and think of the millions that are in need and suffering, and imagine if you were in their shoes, another person’s suffering becoming a part of your own.

In Pakistan, about a month ago a natural catastrophe took place, a disaster so massive that a fifth of the country was inundated with water affecting 20 million people, a sizeable death toll, and with long lasting implications. I joined on a volunteer mission with Dr. Ahmad Nakshabendi, who had much experience with aiding victims of the 2005 earthquake, and embarked on a mission to assist based on our expertise.

We assembled a team of five medical students and five physicians, one truck full of medical supplies and another of donated flour and water along with a team of 7 assistants in helping us dispensing medication and delivering supplies to the affected people. Our goal was to attend to five different camps in Thatta, Badin, Dadu, and Sukkur tending to at least 2500 people.

Our destinations were six hours away from Karachi. On the way, we saw countless homes under the flood, children drinking contaminated water, downed power lines, and people sleeping on any available patch of dry land. As they saw our vehicles and supplies, their faces gleamed with light. Our hearts broke and we looked down as the camps were still 3 hours away, where the situation was even more severe. Further along the way, we saw people starving with no food or clean water to drink in sight, just flood water everywhere. It reminded me of a limerick we heard in my youth, "water water everywhere but not a drop to drink".

Upon arrival, we treated as many urgent cases as we could; an epidemic of Scabies, Malaria, Diarrhea, and other infectious disease. We diagnosed and prescribed medication, and dispensed vitamins and bottled water. The other volunteers distributed flour for bread, milk and other necessitates for survival. We departed at dusk back to Karachi, not feeling satisfied as we knew the food we gave was only going to last a few days and we were only able to treat a small fraction of the affected population, not much more than postponing dire hardships for a short period of time.

As soon as we returned to Karachi, we began planning for the next trip and will embark on another aid trip next week. There’s such a considerable need for support especially for undernourished children as well as for shelter and access to medical care.

A return to normalcy may be a long and difficult journey but I know it will be possible with the resiliency of the people and support that each of us are able give to the best of our abilities.


Submitted by Care Cleaning on
it is so unsanitary to have all of this sitting water around. I wish there was something that they could do about it. I think that they community should start water boiling centers. At least so they can have sanitary water available.

Submitted by Anil Kumar M R on

Submitted by ejaz on
I wanna tell the world one thing. I am supposedly one of the better off people in pakistan but still I don't get the safe drinking water. It's the boring water taht needs to be boiled before it is consumed. so if a person like me doesn't get the safe drinking water then what to speak of people living in rural areas or elsewhere for that matter :( long live Pakistan, short live politicians!

Ray, great piece! Thanks for your service and for bringing to light the plight that many Pakistanis are facing - and continue to face many weeks after your trip. I pray you continue to shed light on what is most certainly the world's worst natural disaster.

Yes indeed many preventable diseases are in fact water borne. Some of these disease are even life threatening. A few set ups have been proposed and i believe has started, in which commercial size water filters have been given to some villages. It is also important to note that being in the health field I hold all biased views against any political party aside and help those in need. Indeed many people are need but some more than others. Thank you all for the wonderful feed back. Dr. R. Naksh

The occurring of climate change, flood, desertification, drought, rising sea level, etc are all the natural phenomena of response made by Nature to human-beings. What can one Sovereign State do to help the other needy State, this is also one of the most desirous spectrum of appliance where the Government of International level has to place a strong key role in helping the survival of human race. The environmental Refugee is a long lost term referring to the natural disasters refugee, which has no definite meaning of appliance in todays decade, this term has not got chance of development, which is one of the prevailing factors of todays need of survival. What will be the ratio of future environmental migratory refugee, this is still a need, which has to be discovered, as assumptions are made which rank only in estimations. The terminology of Refugee seems easy to know, but when it comes to environmental, it becomes hard to understand because still there is no law explaining what is environmental refugee. what we can assume is only what we can see, eg- Bangladesh, Vietnam, latin american Islands, Indonesia etc. This is still a question how many NGOs, International-Communities, Civil Societies, Governments, etc will come for help, what at present is required is to make a law, or draw some funds from the State or have some regulations measures to get effective during these alarming situations. As these are not a situation just for today, but it is a mandatory requirement for future.

Submitted by Dr. A . Martinez-Colon on

Heartwarming piece. Thank you for taking the time to write about this Dr. Ray! I recently met Dr. Ahmad Nakshabandi, and he described to me the experiences he had in Pakistan, yet many of us only superficially heard about this disaster here in North America. Fortunately, yet unfortunately, he was very modest about his accomplishments and it is incredibly encouraging to know that there are still people like yourselves in this world who are going above and beyond to give back. His energy and visions have compelled my partners and I to partake both physically and financially in other projects he has in mind. Whats unfortunate is the difficulties for physicians and other volunteers to partake in such relief and aid activities, due to the unstable political environment of such places like Pakistan, yet that doesn't seem to deter him nor you.

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