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PHDF UK - Pakistan Human Development Fund
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Earthquake Visit
The following report is by Brig. Norman Butler, Patron, Pakistan Human Development Fund UK.

On New Year's Eve 2005, I had the great privilege of taking part in a helicopter visit to some remote villages in the earthquake zone in Northern Pakistan. The party was led by Dr. Nasim Ashraf, Minister of State and Chairman of The National Commission for Human Development, and comprised a number of Founder members of the Pakistan Human Development Fund UK of which I am proud to be a Patron.

This proved to be an extremely moving and humbling experience. As we flew through the valleys we were shocked by the state and extent of the damage. Ballakot at the epicentre of the earthquake was literally flattened and appeared to consist of roofs lying on the ground. The walls of the valley were scarred by numerous landslides.
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The garlanded gentlemen in the left picture are (from right to left) Brig. Norman Butler CBE, PHDF patron - M. Irshad Khokhar, PHDF UK Chairman and Founder Director - Pervaiz Lodhi, PHDF Founder Director - Shoaib Kothawala.



In the right picture, presenting is Dr Nasim Ashraf, Minister of State and Chairman of the National Commission for Human Development, Pakistan.

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We landed on a small plateau at the first village and were greeted by hundreds of men from the village which we could see below was seventy percent destroyed. I was enormously impressed by the courage and dignity of the villagers who made us feel so welcome in spite of their hardships. We all sat together in a formal gathering where the local mayor made a welcoming speech and the Minister replied. Their prime concern was that their water supply had been completely cut off.

After landing in another village, we were driven in Land Rovers down a narrow, precipitous and badly damaged track to the tented encampment which now housed the villagers. All the way along the road, there were piles of rubble containing the pathetic debris from shattered homes including clothing and personal effects.
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We were taken to a small marquee which was signed "Primary School" and found in the dark interior some fifty small children being taught English on a homemade blackboard. As I looked at these beautiful children with their shining eyes, I was moved to tears at the thought ofwhat they had already been through in terms of bereavement and traumatic disruption of their home life and even more of what lay ahead when the valley lay in the grip of ferocious mountain winter. A doctor who had dedicated himself to providing vital medical cover for the devastated village escorted us round the makeshift hospital that he had created. The commitment of his small staff and the indomitable spirit of the villagers took my breath away.

I was able to have a long talk with the deputy head of the United Nations relief team who are doing a wonderful job. He said that four hundred thousand human beings were living village escorted us round the makeshift hospital that he had created. The commitment of his small staff and the indomitable spirit of the villagers took my breath away.
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Spring is approaching and I have nightmares about the casualties that will have occurred among these brave people during the winter. What will undoubtedly be needed is an enormous relief operation with international support to repair as much as possible of the damage and to prepare for next winter. There is a desperate need for additional charitable aid through properly directed agencies. I know of no better agency than the Pakistan Human Development Fund for ensuring that the maximum benefit for the communities in need is obtained from donations.